Fashion chain M&Co has closed its North Devon stores as part of a major restructure.

The M&Co store in Bideford High Street. Picture: Matt SmartThe M&Co store in Bideford High Street. Picture: Matt Smart

Shops in Bideford and Barnstaple were closed with immediate effect on Wednesday (August 5) as the company announced it was to close 47 stores and axe 380 jobs.

A notice informing of the closures was put on the social media channels of the respective shops, directing customers to the company’s website and the nearest stores in Tiverton and Minehead.

The two store closures in North Devon have affected 16 jobs.

Chief executive Andy McGeoch said the company took a ‘huge financial hit’ after having to shut its stores in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “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 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.”

Mr McGeoch said staff in stores and at its Glasgow and London headquarters will be impacted by the job cuts too.

He said: “It’s not a decision we took lightly, after more than 50 years of trading, but it gives us a sustainable basis from which to rebuild, with the majority of our staff keeping their jobs and 218 stores in high streets across the country remaining open.

“The most difficult part of this process is undoubtedly seeing around 380 colleagues in stores and at our Glasgow and London operations leaving the business.

“It’s a terrible situation for them and I’m desperately sorry that we couldn’t come up with a viable plan which would have saved all the jobs.”

The retailer, which was founded in Scotland in 1961, is the latest retailer to announce cuts, following major job losses at WH Smiths and Dixons Carphone in the past 24 hours.