THE store manager of a Whitchurch clothing retailer says she is 'devastated' following the sudden closure of her store.

M&Co, in Green End, has closed as of Wednesday, August 5 as part of parent company Mackays Stores Ltd's financial restructuring process.

Elaine Ashley, store manager for the Whitchurch shop says her staff only found out about the decision at 7pm on Tuesday evening via conference call and says she is devastated by the closure.

"It is devastating for myself and team," said Elaine. "I have worked for M&Co for 16 years.

"All 47 stores due to close immediately on Wednesday, August 5 were told on conference call 7pm on Tuesday evening.

"We were like one big family and we will miss working together and seeing our beloved, loyal customers and friends.

"We wish Mackays Stores Ltd every success for the future as the retail climate is very difficult at present.

"It is a huge loss for the town and we are still in shock at the suddenness of closure."

Meanwhile Mackays Stores Ltd chief executive officer, Andy McGeoch, said the impact of Covid-19 exacerbated an already difficult retail environment, necessitating the closures.

"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," said Mr McGeoch.

"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 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."