A FASHION retailer has announced that North-East stores are amongst 47 across the UK set for permanent closure.

M&Co made the decision to close the stores, which include many across the North-East and Yorkshire, including Bishop Auckland, Houghton le Spring, Durham, Ashington, Yarm, and Knaresborough.

The closures will result in the loss of 380 jobs across the UK.

Chief executive officer of M&Co Andy McGeoch said: "As everyone knows, retail has been one of the sectors hardest-hit by Covid-19, with long-term shop closures and social distancing having a hugely negative impact.

“Like many of the UK’s best-known high street names, we’ve been facing up to a number of underlying business challenges in the current retail environment, which have been exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19.

"Being forced to close all our stores for several months meant a huge financial hit.

"We reopened most stores in June and have been exploring every possible option, but it was obvious that the business, as previously structured, would remain under severe pressure from the ongoing challenges of Covid-19.

"It quickly became clear that the best way to save most jobs and most stores was to enter administration, with a new company acquiring the assets of the old business, and this process has now been finalised."

The Northern Echo: M&Co Durham is also packing up shopM&Co Durham is also packing up shop

Sam Zair, Bishop Auckland Town Cllr, said: "The news about M&Co closure has shocked people around the town.

"The people I have spoken to said that it would be a miss to the whole area.

"This like any other closure will have a negative effect on our daytime economy, and I feel for the staff who have been made redundant.

"High streets as we all know have been under pressure for a while, and if things don’t change there will be no coming back.

"I for one would like to see an online shopping tax, this would then give the incentive for shoppers to shop back on the high street and then encourage more shops to reopen."