HUNDREDS of people could lose their jobs in Specsavers as the pandemic rocks the Hampshire economy.

Specsavers has revealed that 450 support office jobs are at risk of redundancy across its offices in Hampshire, Nottingham, Guernsey and Whiteley.

The company has blamed a sizeable downturn in business on the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

It said it had previously tried to avoid redundancies by implementing pay cuts and reducing some workers' hours.

The company said those "at risk of redundancy" represented nearly a quarter of its 2,000-strong support team, and store staff were not affected.

Co-founder and chief executive John Perkins said the business downturn was coupled with a "challenging outlook for the economy".

He added: "We sadly have had no option but to stop many of our major programmes, halt significant capital investment initiatives and carry out an exercise to streamline our organisational structure."

It said details of the salary cuts were "confidential".

The workers, who are not affiliated with a trade union, will be consulted before changes are implemented, the firm said.

Specsavers employs more than 32,500 people worldwide, including in Australia, New Zealand and some European countries.

Douglas and Dame Mary Perkins, who founded the company in 1984, have a personal fortune of £1.8bn according to the latest edition of the Sunday Times Rich List.

A spokesperson from Specsavers said: "We cannot say at this point how many jobs have been affected in Hampshire as we are in the consultation period for the next 45 days.

"However, we can say with certainty that 70 jobs have been affected in Guernsey."