THREE months after a fire tore through Andover’s Ocado warehouse, jobs are now at risk.

The online supermarket told some of its around 700 employees in the area at briefings on Thursday last week redundancies are being considered, with further staff being told via other means.

Since the fire, started by an electrical fault in a battery which caused a plastic lid on the top of a robot to catch alight, Ocado has been exploring options for temporary operations in the town, including an alternative site.

In online posts in a group for Ocado employees, seen by the Advertiser, the company said the “one viable option” for a temporary site is no longer available due to its current occupiers taking out a longer lease.

And as the re-build of the customer fulfilment centre (CFC) is expected to take at least two years, Ocado has entered into consultation with staff on the future of their roles.

A company spokesperson said: “In light of the fact that the rebuild of Andover CFC will take at least two years to complete, it is with immense regret that we have commenced a formal consultation process.

“We would like to thank all of our colleagues for their hard work and we will provide them with all the support we can during this process. We are committed to rebuilding and restoring our operations in Andover and sincerely hope that we are able to welcome any affected colleagues back to Ocado in the future.”

Due to the number of people affected, views will be collected from employees, with individual meetings having started this week.

Ocado says that “all alternatives to redundancy will be seriously considered”, but the news has been met with regret.

Kit Malthouse, MP for North West Hampshire, said: “It is obviously very disappointing news although I’m sure everyone recognises the terrible and unique circumstances faced by the company and employees.

“I will continue to work with Ocado to secure their ongoing commitment to the town and to make sure we get a fair and equitable outcome for the employees.”

A Test Valley Borough Council spokesperson said: “The devastating fire at the Ocado warehouse in February affected the entire community and has been felt across the country. The council is determined to do all it can in supporting the company moving forward and we’re pleased that, despite this terrible incident, Ocado is committed to rebuild in Andover, better and stronger.

“In the immediate future, the council will do everything we can to support the community following Ocado’s consultation and will work alongside the company and other agencies to support any staff who may need assistance.”

The union Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) said up to 400 staff were at risk of redundancy.

Daniel Adams, Usdaw national officer, said: “Clearly the staff are devastated by this development, particularly as they have spent the last three months helping to keep the business going after a fire gutted the Andover site.

“Full and meaningful consultations are ongoing with the company, with a view to minimising redundancies and mitigating their impact. In the meantime we will continue to provide our members with the support, advice and representation they need at this very difficult time.”