The builders' merchant Travis Perkins is set to close more than 165 stores across country.

The firm has 18 branches across Cumbria and southern Scotland that are under threat.

They say around 2,500 workers will lose their jobs as it expects the recession to hit the trade for at least two years.

Businesses are concerned that the recession, which is predicted to be the harshest in living memory, will take years to recover from and that some firms may collapse in the battle for survival.

9%

The percentage of Travis Perkins' workforce being made redundant

Chief executive Nick Roberts said: “Whilst we have experienced improving trends more recently, we do not expect a return to pre-Covid trading conditions for some time and consequently we have had to take the very difficult decision to begin consultations on the closure of selected branches and to reduce our workforce to ensure we can protect the Group as a whole.

“This is in no way a reflection on those employees impacted and we will do everything we can to support them during this process.”

The company said: “Branch closures will be concentrated in the Merchant businesses, in particular the Travis Perkins General Merchant, focusing on small branches where it is either difficult to implement safe distancing practices, or where marginal profitability will be eroded in a reduced volume environment.”