A SUPERMARKET chief has moved to reassure customers after being forced to conduct a financial health check of the company.

Edwin Booth, executive chairman and chief executive of Booths, insisted the retailer had 'an effective plan and team in place'.

The family-owned grocer, which has stores in Clitheroe, Barrowford and Longridge, has been forced to call in accountants after a difficult 18 months of trading.

Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC have drafted in Grant Thornton to conduct an independent bank review of the business, which runs 28 stores across the North.

Booths was badly affected by Storm Desmond, which caused damage to several stores in December 2015. It made an annual loss in the 12 months to the end of March 2016, according to the latest annual results available.

Grant Thornton is expected to offer the supermarket-chain guidance for the best way forward. This could involve the Booth family putting in extra funds.

Mr Booth, who is also the chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “These are turbulent times for the retail industry, which is rife with conjecture and speculation.

“We have an effective plan and team in place to ensure Booths remains a much-loved retailer for our customers here in the North.

"Booths is a resilient 170-year, family-owned retailer with strong brand loyalty and leadership in place.

“We’re focusing on delivering the best service, products and value to our customers.”

Booths has come under pressure from discount stores such as Lidl and Aldi and faces intense competition from bigger national rivals.

In May the company announced the departure of Chris Dee, its then chief executive. Mr Dee, Booths' first and only non-family chief executive, left Booths at the end of June, with Mr Booth taking the role.

Last year the firm removed a layer of senior management, which led to the loss of 100 jobs and a one-off charge of £1.6million. This caused the business to fall to a £6.3million loss in 2016, down from a £1.1million profit the previous year.

The firm has also invested in the business by opening five stores in18 months creating 400 jobs.