MORE than 120 jobs are set to be axed at a Co-op distribution centre in Oxford.

The Midcounties Co-operative yesterday announced it wants to close its Chilled Distribution Centre in Ferry Hinksey Road, off Osney Mead, West Oxford, with the loss of 123 jobs.

The centre’s employees were told on Tuesday they may be out of a job by May 5.

Last night the company confirmed the news.

Deputy chief executive Andy Cresswell said: “If the proposal is confirmed it will result in the closure of the site and regrettably, redundancies are likely.

“We recognise this is an unsettling time for our colleagues and we are focused on supporting them through this period.”

Problems with flooding at the site were cited as one of the reasons for the plans.

Ferry Hinksey Road was closed due to flooding in November last year and January this year.

A woman whose husband works at the centre, and who did not want to be named, said she did not know what her family would do if the site closes.

She said: “I haven’t stopped crying since Tuesday, we have a mortgage and children.

“Nobody really knows why they are closing it. They have been open here since 1989. “We are just gutted – 110 staff were told they will be going even before May 5 although we would be paid until then.

“We thought we were set for life. During the flooding it was difficult for the lorries, and a centre at Andover in Hampshire was used instead. And apparently that all went very well.”

As well as flooding, chief executive Ben Reid said the plans were also a result of company growth.

The site was found to be unsuitable for expansion.

He said: “The number of convenience stores and supermarkets that Midcounties operates has grown considerably in recent years and that growth will continue, which is why we have undertaken a considered and in-depth review of our logistics operation.”

The Midcounties Co-operative already uses distribution centres operated by Co-operative Group and is considering moving the rest of its operations into that network.

The 90-day consultation period for the decision began on Tuesday and ends on May 5.

Nigel Wild, president of Oxfordshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Any loss of jobs is regrettable. It is a shame and we hope they are able to find new jobs or that they can be transferred elsewhere.

“I had heard the distribution centre was problematic. The premises were causing a lot of problems.”

Midcounties Co-operative spokesman Nigel Pipkin said he couldn’t say if there would be offers for employees to move elsewhere because they were in a consultation period.

Mr Cresswell added: “We still have a major presence in Oxford and the surrounding area and we are committed to supporting our stores and the communities in which they trade.”

There are 51 stores in Oxfordshire, employing 1,435 staff.