Marks & Spencer is in discussion with 53 members of staff over proposals to close its Dorchester South Street branch.

In a statement, the food and fashion chain said it is 'reshaping' its store estate "to meet the needs of today’s customer".

"Today we’re consulting with 53 colleagues on the proposed closure of our South Street store in Dorchester", a spokesman said.

"Over the coming weeks our priority will be supporting colleagues as we go through the consultation – every colleague will have the option to redeploy within M&S."

Aaron Spicer, M&S Head of Region for Wessex, said: “Shopping habits are changing so we’re transforming our store estate to meet the needs of today’s customers. Proposing to close our Dorchester store is a difficult but necessary part of reshaping our estate to have fewer, but more inspirational stores. Over the coming weeks our priority will be supporting our great team of colleagues at Dorchester as we discuss what’s best for them.

“We remain committed to local customers and, if the proposal goes ahead, we will continue to serve them from our website and other stores in the area, including M&S Weymouth and our Foodhall in Blandford Forum, where customers can also pick up Clothing & Home products in store via Click & Collect.”

In May Marks & Spencer announced it was closing a further 20 of its full-line stores, which sell clothing and food under one roof.

The retailer said it planned to close 72 of its big high street stores, on top of the 48 it has already shut. The company is battling the transfer of clothing sales online and it had previously told the City to expect about 100 closures.

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe said at hte time: “We can’t flinch from making the changes we need to make to modernise the business. We need to learn the lessons of the past and churn our store estate continually.”

The news of the extra branch closures came as the company pointed to “green shoots” of recovery, despite annual profits being pulled down by a £440m bill for a modernisation programme.