IRVINE, Calif. (AP) - The slowing economy will force HomeBase Inc. to fire more than 2,600 workers and close 25 home improvement centers it had planned to convert into home furnishing stores.

HomeBase said Tuesday that it plans to open 42 House2Home stores, down from the 67 conversions previously planned. The layoffs, including 140 at its headquarters, represent more than 25 percent of its work force.

The slowing economy prompted reconsideration of the ``scope and pace of the rollout,'' including the wisdom of opening a new concept in several states where it had not yet been tested, HomeBase spokeswoman Michele Feller said.

HomeBase also said it will take a $90 million to $100 million after-tax charge associated with the store closures.

``They're making a smaller bet,'' said Brett Hendrickson, an analyst with B. Riley & Co. ``It makes the ultimate pot of gold at the end of the conversion process somewhat less, but it also takes away a lot of the risk, because they're going to have a lot less debt.''

The company announced in December that it was abandoning the home improvement business and would permanently close 22 HomeBase stores.