A CONVENIENCE store worker needed hospital treatment after masked men threatened her in a terrifying early morning raid.

The 69-year-old woman was alone when the three men wearing scarves and hoodies struck as she unlocked the doors at Co-op store in Ashurst.

Manager of the Lyndhurst Road store Steven White said he understood one of the men had grabbed the woman while the other two searched the store.

He said they wanted the keys to the get to the safe and threatened the employee, who did not have the key.

After trying to get into the staff area, when they realised they could not get what they wanted the men left.

He said he understood they had made their getaway in a nearby car.

Another member of staff who was running a few minutes late arrived shortly after the ordeal, which lasted around 10 minutes, and called police, said Mr White.

The woman, who has not been named, was taken to hospital by ambulance and treated for shock following the incident at 5.30am yesterday.

She has since been released.

Mr White said: “She’s a bit shaken up but she’s doing well, she dealt with the situation very well.

“We’re surprised – we have had break-ins here before, we know these people are out there but it’s surprising to be held up so to speak.”

The store was closed for four hours as police conducted forensic tests.

It is not thought anything was taken.

Officers are investigating and want anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area at the time of the incident and anyone who may have seen a dark coloured hatchback car in the area at the time or driving away afterwards to contact them.

Detective Inspector Amanda Horsburgh said: “This was a distressing incident for the shop worker which left her very shaken.

“I would appeal for anyone with information that may assist our investigation into this robbery to contact us.”

Contact police on 101.