FIFTY jobs are at risk because of the relocation of a Hampshire supermarket, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Fourteen businesses at the Apex Centre at Speedfields Retail Park in Fareham are under threat after it was revealed that Lidl planned to demolish units 10 to 23 of the centre to make way for a new store to replace their old one in Newgate Lane.

Kevin Arrowsmith, director of A&S Signs and Graphics limited who has been at the Apex Centre for 14 years was shocked.

He said: “These are companies in manufacturing many in the marine industry which are beneficial to the local economy which is what the government and Solent LEP are crying out for.

“They spend a lot of money supporting these businesses and it would be very disappointing as we took a financial risk and jeopardised our homes to set up these businesses only for them to be possibly due to a lack of support from the Solent LEP and the local council.

“If they wanted to sell the units then why not did they make an offer to us.”

Lindsey Dowdell, 58, owner of Gearboxes, who specialises in the reconditioning, repairs and servicing of automatic and manual gearboxes and has been at the centre for 30 years said: “It would be completely disastrous because I could not afford to relocate.

“As a result, there could be a chance that I would have to close.”

Lidl submitted a planning application to Fareham Borough Council in June to demolish its current store at Speedfields Park and build a bigger replacement on the existing site and 10 to 23 Apex Centre right next door.

The existing store, which opened in 2002, currently employs 18 staff but the new store will have 40.

Reacting to the news, Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said: “I await further details but have initial concerns about the growth of an already massive European company at the expense of small local businesses with no guarantee of a net increase in jobs.”

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council said: "I am concerned about the principle of retail development outside a designated Centre. 

"Are there any more centrally located sites available or suitable and will the proposal have an adverse effect on the vitality or viability of nearby centres?"

In response, Ian Power, from Commercial Letting Agents Cyan Power said: “Nobody is being asked to give up their business.

“If planning consent is granted, we would be happy to help them move to a new location.”

Lidl issued the following statement: “Lidl takes seriously all feedback received regarding our store development plans. Much thought and consideration goes into purchasing a new site, with our dedicated property team closely evaluating all options available. Since the current Fareham store was built, our business has grown exponentially in the UK, with more customers shopping at Lidl than ever before.

“As a result, our existing store is no longer able to meet the rightfully high expectations of our thousands of local customers, or accommodate the full range of Lidl goods. It’s therefore necessary for us to expand the store.”

The firm said their proposals would secure existing jobs at the store and create new ones.

The stores will go before the Fareham council's planning committee next month.