The builders’ merchant said it had made the move as it predicts weaker demand for building materials over the next two years as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company, which is the UK’s largest distributor of building materials, also owns Wickes and Toolstation and currently has 2,154 branches and 30,000 employees nationwide.

The job losses are said to mostly affect the TP part of the business and the smaller branches where social distancing rules are harder to implement will be most at risk. Non-store roles in distribution, administration and sales will also be impacted.

“While 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,” said Nick Roberts, chief executive. “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 added in a statement: “It is evident that the UK is facing a recession and this will have a corresponding impact on the demand for building materials during 2020 and 2021.”