It's been a turbulent time for businesses across the North East.

But after more than a year of Covid, national lockdowns and local restrictions, non essential stores are starting to reopen.

On April 12 Boris Johnson eased coronavirus restrictions reopening shops and allowing pubs and restaurants to serve customers outdoors.

Across the North East the past week has seen shops and restaurants packed - and the spring weather has helped.

Customers are beginning to return to the MetroCentre in Gateshead which this year celebrates its 35th anniversary.

However, they will notice that some of the stores have not survived the pandemic and are now closed.

Here we look at those which have gone for good.

Pret A Manger

It was last June that upmarket coffee and sandwich chain Pret A Manger confirmed it would not be reopening its large store at the MetroCentre after deciding against renewing its two leases there.

The same fate befell its shop on Grainger Street, Newcastle, close to the Monument in Newcastle, as it shed thousands of jobs.

Pret A Manger
Pret A Manger

Argos Extra

Argos Extra in the MetroCentre, one of the largest Argos stores in the North-East, is now no more.

It was among the list of standalone Argos stores that have been axed across the UK. Sainsbury's, which owns the brand, revealed last November was cutting around 3,500 jobs and closing branches as part of efforts to "better reflect customer demand."

That month Argos in the Yellow Mall was pictured boarded up with large signs stating that the store has now closed.

Debenhams

Debenhams closed what was one of the largest stores in the Gateshead shopping centre in June as it battled falling sales and the legacy of huge debts.

It was a big blow at the time, however Next took over the former Debenhams store to expand its sale of homeware and women’s clothes and move into beauty products.

Topman, Topshop and Miss Selfridge

Like stores across the UK, Topman, Topshop and Miss Selfridge are set to remain permanently shut after the brands were purchased by online retailer Asos following the collapse of Sir Philip Green's Arcadia Group.

The brands, purchased for £265m, had stores across the region including the MetroCentre as well as in Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough.

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Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton

The online fashion retailer Boohoo bought Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton for £25m, completing the breakup of the Arcadia Group.

The deal to buy the three remaining fashion brands out of administration does not include any of their 214 UK stores, including those in the MetroCentre.

Cath Kidston

It was last April fashion and accessories brand Cath Kidston announced it was to shut all 60 of its UK stores with the loss of more than 900 jobs.

The high street company confirmed its stores will not reopen once the coronavirus lockdown is over after the owners secured a deal to buy back its brand and online operations following its fall into administration.

Thorntons sign
Thorntons sign

Thorntons

In March the iconic chocolatier, Thorntons announced the permanent closure of all of its UK stores, including at the MetroCentre .

The retailer blamed the impact of the Covid pandemic on the closure of all 61 stores nationally as it was confirmed 603 jobs were at risk.