A BOMBSHELL announcement to close Tesco in Runcorn after almost 40 years has left staff and customers devastated.

Halton Council is calling for urgent talks with the retailer to persuade them to reverse the decision and save 110 jobs which could be lost.

It will leave the shopping centre without a supermarket and post office, which is inside the Metro store.

Many shoppers who don’t drive say it is the only food outlet they can reach easily on the bus.

It is part of a nationwide drive by the ailing retail giant to cut costs by £250 million and axe 2,000 jobs.

Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said the decision to close 43 stores deemed ‘unprofitable’ was “exceptionally difficult”.

He said: “I recognise it will affect many hardworking colleagues, our customers and communities.”

Tesco has also abandoned plans to build 49 new stores and is shutting its head office.

Council leader Cllr Rob Polhill said: “We really feel for the staff. This is a devastating blow.

“There has been no consultation which is disgraceful.

“Tesco hasn’t spoken to the council or the owners of the centre so we have had no opportunity to try and influence their decision.

“It seems to have been something from head office with no regard for this community.

“We will be challenging their assumptions to see if there is anything we can do.”

Centre management says they are stunned by the decision as the supermarket giant had been planning to move to bigger premises.

Centre manager Karl Clawley said: “It is such a sad situation.

“It came as a complete surprise.

“I don’t understand Tesco’s thought process. They are trying to be part of the community yet they are ripping it out of the community.

“My thoughts are with the staff.

“Talks are under way to re-locate the post office within another business.

A spokesman for F&C REIT Asset Management, who bought the centre in 2011, said: “Tesco had recently explored the possibility of expanding its presence.”

Shoppers fear Tesco closing on April 4 could hit other businesses.

Michael Unsworth, from Beechwood, said: “I’ve always said once Tesco closes it’s a nail in the coffin.

“It will have a domino effect. Maybe other stores will close.

“It’s a shame because the new staff at the centre are doing a great job.”

Margaret Dwyer, from Castlefields, said: “I’m disgusted. I don’t drive so I can get a bus right here.

“It’s so convenient, all under cover.

“The staff are lovely. I feel dead sorry for them.”

John McCashin, from Castlefields, said: “I think it is very poor that they should take away the one shop we come to regularly.

“It is handy for the bus.

“We have lost a few good shops. Why pick on Runcorn all the time?

“It’s an expanding town.”

Julia Bennison, from Ashbourne Avenue, said: “I can’t believe it’s not making money. Every time I come here it’s busy.

“The position right by the entrance is perfect.

“It will make an impact. I will stop coming to the shopping centre.”

The post office is now looking for a new home.

A post office spokesman said: “Customers should be reassured that we are committed to maintaining post office services to customers in Runcorn.

“We will be seeking alternative premises so any retailers interested in this business opportunity should contact us.”