CHANGES at a busy supermarket will hurt the poorest in East Oxford, it has been claimed.

It is understood as many as 50 people working at the Tesco Metro in Cowley Road could lose their jobs or be moved as part of a restructure led by the retail giant.

Residents said that risked the company putting the ‘lifestyle habits of generally affluent students before the needs of the poorer, older and needier people in the community.’

Graham Jones, a former city councillor for St Clements ward, said he was worried those people and others without access to a car could lose out if Tesco Metro is changed.

The company said the supermarket will remain a Metro and that no retail space will be lost in any changes.

READ MORE: Superdrug opens new branch on Cowley Road in Oxford today

Dr Jones said: “It will also hit the many people who choose not to, or can’t afford to own a car. How are they to get to an out-of-town supermarket to which there is no bus service?

“Tesco claims that it is reducing Metro stores where customers generally make ‘top-up’ purchases instead of the weekly shop. In fact many customers spread out their purchases across the week where a store is within easy walking distance or, as here, on multiple bus routes.”

He added: “Among those who are concerned are fellow governors at East Oxford Primary School. We’re very concerned about the impact on children’s health from the restricted availability of fruit and vegetables.

"We’ve been very grateful to Tesco’s community officer for providing fresh fruit for our children at break-time. It’s an important feature of our care for our less-advantaged pupils.”

Tesco declined to comment on possible changes in Oxford specifically. It said it is communicating with staff.

But it confirmed the store will continue to offer a ‘broader range of products than our smaller Express stores’.

It said it was a process that all of its 153 Tesco Metro stores are undergoing.

READ AGAIN: Developers want to build 137 new student flats in Cowley Road, Oxford

Jason Tarry, Tesco’s chief executive in the UK and Ireland, said in August: “In a challenging, evolving retail environment, with increasing cost pressures, we have to continue to review the way we run our stores to ensure we reflect the way our customers are shopping and do so in the most efficient way.

“We do not take any decision which impacts colleagues lightly, but have to make sure we remain relevant for customers and operate a sustainable business now and in the future.”

A bid to build 137 student flats over Tesco has been met with more than 100 objections. The floorspace in the supermarket will be unaffected.