WH Smith is planning to cut up to 1,500 jobs as bosses said its recovery from the Covid-19 lockdown has been “slow”.

The retailer said it is starting to consult with staff over plans that could see as many as 1,500 of them losing their roles.

This comes as the Blackburn store in The Mall is set to close on Saturday in order to help reduce costs and cut losses.

A WH Smith spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the WH Smith store in The Mall Blackburn will be closing when the lease expires."

They pointed to their Accrington store which will remain open, as well as other stores in Burnley, Chorley, and Preston.

The company said it needs to reduce costs as its shops in airports and railway stations have been hit by low passenger numbers and its high street stores have also suffered from low footfall.

It said just over half of its UK travel shops have reopened and that 246 of its largest sites have started trading again.

All 575 of its high street stores have opened, the business said, but footfall is strongly down compared with last year.

Revenue was 57% lower last month compared with July 2019, even as sites started to welcome customers back, with most of this loss coming from the travel arm.

Chief executive Carl Cowling said:“We now need to take further action to reduce costs across our businesses.

“I regret that this will have an impact on a significant number of colleagues whose roles will be affected by these necessary actions, and we will do everything we can to support them at this challenging time.”

The high street business has gone from 71% down in April to 25% down in July compared with the same months in 2019.

The company said its loss before tax is likely to reach between £70 million and £75 million for the year ending August 31. The results will be announced in November.

Mr Cowling added: “Covid-19 continues to have a significant impact on the WH Smith Group.

"Throughout the pandemic, we have responded quickly and taken decisive actions to protect the business, including substantially strengthening our financial position. We have also welcomed support from government where available.”