SOMERSET-based footwear retailer Clarks is to slash around 900 office jobs to prepare for business after coronavirus.

It has shed 160 jobs globally today, including 108 redundancies at its headquarters in Street.

There are plans to make further jobs of around 700 over the next 18 months, while at the same time creating around 200 new jobs.

It is part of the firm's Made to Last initiative aimed at ensuring Clarks' future.

Chief executive Giorgio Presca said: "There are exciting opportunities ahead for our business, and we are having to make some difficult decisions to get there.

"We thank all affected staff for their contribution to our business and they leave their roles with our heartfelt respect and support."

Gareth Lowe, regional officer of Unite, the union which represents many of Clarks' employees, said: "This is a bitter blow for Clarks workers, particularly during such uncertain times.

"Clarks is Street's biggest employer and Somerset’s regional economy will also be dealt a heavy blow by these losses.

"Unite is fighting to save as many jobs as possible and we call on Clarks to ensure that only voluntary job losses that include generous leaving packages are carried out.

"Clarks should also do its utmost to find alternative roles for those staff who wish to continue working with the firm.

"We are working with Clarks to protect against further losses, with the aim of maintaining the firm’s long-term place as a major local employer."