STAFF at a Southampton supermarket are facing a jobs threat after bosses revealed they have sold a branch to a rival food store.

Almost 50 members of staff at the Co-Operative in Obelisk Road, Woolston could face redundancy after plans to sell the plot to Lidl were confirmed.

Co-op said it wanted to focus on smaller convenience stores across the city.

A spokesperson for The Co-operative Food said: “I can confirm that we have agreed to sell our food store in Woolston to Lidl.

“The Co-operative Group continually reviews its retail estate, and we have made the decision to focus on smaller convenience stores and sell those trading outlets that do not align with our strategy.

“The consideration to sell the store is in no way a reflection on the hard work and commitment from colleagues working at the Woolston store.”

The spokesperson also said that the 49 members of staff in Woolston will be transferred to the new operator and until a date for the transfer to Lidl is announced it will continue to trade as a Co-op.

He added: “We understand that following completion of the acquisition, the store will be closed for an extended period of time while building works are carried out.

“Regrettably, this means that the staff at this store are at risk of redundancy. We are working closely with Lidl to ensure that all staff affected by the transfer are consulted in the appropriate manner.”

A spokesperson for Lidl added: “We are very much looking forward to bringing our quality products and great value offering to the residents of Woolston, as part of Lidl’s ongoing expansion programme.

“While we are unable to confirm timescales at this stage, the store will be undergoing refurbishment to bring it in line with Lidl’s current specification prior to opening.

“We would like to thank the local community in advance for their patience while this work is carried out.”