The owner of retailers Brown Thomas and Arnotts is to cut 150 jobs due to the impact Covid-19 has had on sales.

In a statement the company said it was beginning a consultation with staff and would initially be seeking voluntary redundancies.

It also said it would look at "flexible options" for staff, including shorter working weeks, career breaks and early retirement.

Brown Thomas Arnotts said it hoped to conclude the process by mid-October.

"The retail industry is being severely impacted by unprecedented circumstances related to Covid-19 and Brown Thomas Arnotts is no exception," said managing director Donald McDonald. "Like many others, we are feeling the effects with sales expected to be significantly down, making 2020 the toughest year we have experienced in recent times.

"And as we face continued uncertainty, with retail unlikely to return to normal for the foreseeable future, it is clear that we need to take a series of steps to ensure our cost base is sustainable, consistent with the level of business we realistically expect, and to ensure our resources are aligned with the current and anticipated requirements of the business."

Mr McDonald said the cost-cutting plan would help it to protect its business as it sought to change its model to suit shifting consumer demands.

Total employees across Brown Thomas and Arnotts, including concessions, stands at just over 4,000.

The two brands, which are part of UK-based Selfridges Group, reopened their stores in early June following their enforced closure due to the coronavirus.

However, like many retailers, it has not seen trade return close to pre-Covid levels, with consumer confidence remaining low due to health and economic fears.