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Covid casualty – store leaves town after decades

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By Charlotte MacKay
Annan and Eskdale
Covid casualty - store leaves town after decades

STAFF at a popular Annan clothing store are among those who have been made redundant by a major fashion retailer in a wave of store closures.

On Wednesday M&Co appointed Deloitte as administrators in a pre-pack deal which saw the firm’s assets bought back by the family which had built up the company. But as part of the deal a total of 47 M&Co stores, including the branch in Annan high street, will close, with local staff among the 380 redundancies. The Annan store announced the closure via their own social media account on Tuesday evening, before the company officially appointed administrators the following day.

The firm, which was previously known as Mackays, said it would be focusing on city centre locations with stores in rural towns and suburbs worst affected by the cuts. The store at the Lanes Shopping Centre in Carlisle will also be closing, although the Castle Douglas branch will remain open.

CEO 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.

“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. 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.”

Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell said his thoughts were with the staff affected by the Annan branch closure and their families. He said: “The store has been a significant presence in the town centre for a number of years and the staff, together with the clothing choice they offered, will be greatly missed by their regular customers. Sadly the news highlights the wider impact of Covid-19 and a decline in traditional retailing. Carving out a viable future for our town centres must be a high priority for all the agencies involved.”

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