Waitrose has begun a consultation process for 171 staff because its Marlow branch is having to close before Christmas after Sainsbury's secured the head lease of the site.

The retailer's occupational lease expires later this year after trading in Marlow for nearly 40 years, said a Waitrose spokesman.

However, the retailer is looking to relocate to another site less than half a mile away in a bid to remain in Marlow and secure jobs.

"Having considered a number of options, we believe we have found a commercially and logistically viable opportunity that will help us achieve this," said Waitrose director of development Nigel Keen.

Waitrose is keen to gather feedback from the local council and community before it progresses with the proposal and hoped to be open by Christmas, he said.

Meanwhile, Sainsbury's said it planned to open a new, larger store on the site it acquired, which it claims has been welcomed by the local community.

"The creation of a larger store will allow us to greatly enhance food shopping provision for people in Marlow. We are committed to delivering a quality shopping experience for the community," said a spokeswoman. "A new, larger Sainsbury's store would be expected to provide an equivalent number of jobs as the existing Waitrose store and Sainsbury's would recruit staff from the local area in the lead-up to the proposed store opening."