A LUXURY car manufacturer has told south Cumbrian customers to buy online or travel up to 100 miles as it announces the closure of a key dealership.

Mercedes-Benz of South Lakes, located in Ulverston, will cease sales of its cars in the lead up to Christmas.

Company bosses said that by the end of the year both new and used car sales will have stopped from the dealership but that it would remain open for after-sales and service customers only.

Mercedes-Benz has been approached for comment over the prospect of any staff losing their jobs.

A councillor called it a 'sign of the times' that customers were told to travel to Lancashire or buy their cars online.

Shirley-Anne Wilson, councillor for Ulverston East, said: "This is very disappointing news for Ulverston and I know many people, both customers and staff, will be affected by this.

"A few people I know drive their cars and always speak well of the setup.

"But I also know people who buy cars online and I guess it’s a sign of the times. I would urge and encourage people to buy local rather than online."

While councillor Mark Wilson expressed empathy with the tough decisions that businesses have to make.

He said: "The garage has been a useful motor trade addition to the services in Ulverston.

"They have been good neighbours and helpful charity partners.

"Their car sales model always was a national base with cars coming in and going out all over the place as well as a source for locals to work with.

"No doubt that these are challenging times for businesses and their business models, methods of working will always need to be under review.

"I am pleased that repairs and after sales services are planned to be maintained, that should enable jobs to be retained at garages which service cars for Mercedes."

On its closure, a spokesman for Mercedes-Benz said: "Mercedes-Benz of South Lakes will remain open for after-sales and service customers in the local area, however, new and used car sales will cease from that site at the end of the year. 

"Customers wishing to purchase new or Approved Used Mercedes-Benz can visit the retailer in Preston or Bolton or view all existing UK new and used car stock on our Online Showroom."