A clothing retailer has announced it will be closing outlets in County Durham and Sunderland.

M&Co has confirmed its Durham city,Bishop Auckland and Houghton-le-Spring outlets will be among the 47 stores to shut as part of a major restructuring operation to secure its long-term future.

The firm will also be closing its stores in Ashington and Yarm as part of the shake up, with scores of job losses across the region.

A total of 380 jobs will be cut across the company, which will continue to operate with 218 stores and employ 2,200 people.

It comes after the family that owns the fashion chain was reportedly preparing to buy back the business via a pre-pack administration deal in efforts to save it from collapsing.

The Durham store had only been open a year, having moved from one unit to the old M&S store, which had lain empty since 2018.

The retailer said it believes its reduced network of stores, focused on local high streets, will strengthen its position, "with the coronavirus outbreak reducing appetites to travel longer distances on public transport".

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

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."

It is the latest company to announce its permanent closure in the city, with Dickson butcher and Topshop closing their doors.

Restaurant chain Frankie and Benny’s has also confirmed it will not be reopening its outlet at the Arnison Centre.