TWO south Essex convenience stores are under threat of closure after its owners went into administration.

There are 34 Budgens stores at risk nationwide, including the ones in Roche Close, Rochford and the Benfleet High Street.

The stores are owned by the Food Retailer Operations Limited (FROL), which bought the food store chain last year from the Co-operative group. But since then, the company has experienced “difficult trading conditions”.

FROL operates 34 convenience stores across the UK, which trade under the Budgens brand and employs 872 people – with 36 employees in the two south Essex stores.

Lisa James, 39, who regularly uses the Rochford store, said: “I feel sorry for those who might lose their jobs.

“I guess we just have to hope that the staff get some kind of support to find new jobs and hope for the best.

“There are always people in the store so I am surprised it isn’t making money, but I guess there is a lot of competition in the town.

“It feels like it hasn’t even been there that long and now it’s going – maybe it is a sign of the times, it is a real shame.

“It was really convenient for me to get to and I know that elderly residents here depend on it.”

Michael Denny, Robert Moran and Matthew Hammond of PwC were appointed as joint administrators of FROL.

Mr Denny said: “FROL has faced significant headwinds in the form of pricing pressures, intense competition and structural change across the food retail sector.

“We are continuing to trade all 34 stores, whilst engaging with interested parties for the sites and the other leasehold interests of the company.

“We will work closely with the employees over the coming weeks.”