A DORSET branch of the fashion chain M&Co has closed under a restructure which has saved its other local shops.

More than 200 stores are reopening but 47 are being axed.

The branch in Cheap Street, Sherborne, has shut.  Branches at at Bournemouth’s Turbary Retail Park, Wimborne, Blandford, Christchurch, Shaftesbury, Bridport, Dorhester and Ringwood are all staying open.

M&Co appointed administrators in April as the coronavirus forced most UK retailers to close. Chief executive Andy McGeoch said: “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.

"Covid has been by far the biggest challenge our family business has faced in almost 60 years, and I am really pleased that we have been able to maintain a presence in over 200 communities.

"Covid-19 means many people don’t feel comfortable travelling on public transport or visiting busy city centres and that can be good news for local high street stores like M&Co. That’s why we are looking at ways of working in partnership with other local retailers to highlight the tremendous range of shopping that can be found in communities like this all over the country.

“Local economies rely to a huge degree on their town centres and we have seen too many high streets hollowed out by successive shop closures. More and more people are beginning to realise that, if they don’t support their town centres, everyone’s quality of living really takes a hit, so we are proud to be playing a part in the drive to shop locally.

“The response from our customers during lockdown was phenomenal. We had a steady stream of requests for updates via M&Co’s Facebook pages, with some customers even posting letters through the doors asking when we were reopening. It’s hugely encouraging to hear our customers say how much they have missed us after months away.”

In a recent Sunday Times survey, M&Co was voted 14th Best Large Company to work for in the UK.

The administration process, which is being managed by Deloitte, will see around 380 redundancies.