STAFF at a food shop have been targeted at knifepoint by robbers twice in two weeks.

Raids have taken place at the Co-op in Oak Tree Lane, Bransgore at 9pm on Monday, January 15 and Sunday, January 28.

In each case, staff saw a blade, and alcohol, cigarettes and cash were taken.

Police say it is "too soon" to know if the incidents are linked.

However, the robbery on January 15 is believed to be connected to an attempted robbery at the Nisa convenience store in Marlow Drive, Christchurch, which happened around half an hour before.

A spokesperson from Hampshire police said: "At around 9pm on Sunday, January 28, a man entered the shop and made threats to staff while demanding cash, alcohol and cigarettes.

"Fearing for their safety, staff handed these items to the man, who then left the area on foot.

"Enquiries are ongoing."

Officers say the robber was carrying a "bladed item" during the incident.

A spokesperson for the Co-op said: "There was an incident at our store in Oak Tree Parade, Bransgore on the evening of Sunday, January 28.

"An armed intruder entered the store.

"Fortunately, no one was hurt, but colleagues were left shaken.

"The Co-op takes retail crime very seriously and implements a range of measures to both deter criminal activity and to aid convictions.

"We appeal for anyone with information to come forward to the police.

"The store has now re-opened to serve the community."

Jens Lammering, owner of The Village Pet Shop in Bransgore, said cuts to policing will put traders out of business as crime rises.

"We're getting to the point now where we employ people to look after the shop for us and we have to wonder if they'll be safe," he said.

"If someone wants to work for us, it's almost as if we have to say, 'You could be held up for cash'.

"There aren't enough police. That isn't the fault of the officers, it's the fault of the cuts."

Anyone with information about the robbery should contact police on 101, quoting 44180037059.

In the January 15 robbery, staff were threatened at knifepoint before the robber left with a holdall containing items.

During the incident at Nisa, store manager Purvesh Patel fended off the would-be robber with a nearby chair.

He came within inches of being hurt by the long knife before hitting the store's panic button. A fellow member of staff called police, and although officers arrived within minutes, the culprit had left the scene.