Jobs in Whitchurch are under threat as administrators have been appointed to Countrywide Farmers, which has a store in Station Road.

The company employs more than 700 people across its 48 stores are now under the guidance of KPMG, who have have said no initial redundancies have been made.

Countrywide sold its liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) business this month and had identified a buyer for the retail business but the Competition and markets Authority (CMA) is intending to refer the proposed sale for an in-depth two-part investigation.

David Pike, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “Following the recent CMA announcement, the proposed retail transaction cannot proceed.

“Unfortunately, given the significant trading difficulties and cash flow pressures, this has led the directors to consider their options and take the difficult decision to place the company into administration.

“It is our intention to seek a purchaser for the business in whole or part and we have appointed Hilco Capital to assist in running the stores whilst we explore and develop available options. We encourage anyone who has an interest to contact us immediately.”