POLITICIANS and union bosses have called for jobs at a Dumbarton supermarket to be “fully protected” in the event of any takeover of the store’s owners.

The plea comes amid the growing expectation that the Morrisons chain is on the verge of being sold to a private equity firm.

A consortium led by one such firm, Fortress, backed by Japanese bank Softbank, is the front-runner to buy the company after its offer was accepted by the Bradford-based company’s directors.

But there are fears that a private equity firm could see “asset-stripping” as its top priority.

In addition to its Dumbarton store, Morrisons also opened a new supermarket in Helensburgh in December after buying the site of the town’s former Waitrose shop.

Dumbarton’s MSP, Jackie Baillie, said: “The news of this takeover may cause concern for the many local people who are employed by Morrisons both in the Helensburgh and Dumbarton stores.

“I have worked with Morrisons in the past to ensure that local jobs are protected and I will have no hesitation in doing so again.

“The pandemic, which is not yet over, has created great economic uncertainty.

“It is of the utmost importance that no local jobs are threatened by any potential takeover and any new owner must commit to that before moving forward with talks.”

Former Conservative West Scotland MSP Maurice Corry added: “Understandably, there will be concerns and many questions over what would happen if a takeover of Morrisons takes place.

“Any bidders must give a guarantee that all these jobs would be protected going forward, including at the fuel station.

“It is imperative these jobs are not lost from the town.

"That would have a major impact on many families.

“I will be continuing to monitor this issue closely as a local resident and hope that these supermarkets can continue to enjoy a bright future.”

Joanne McGuinness, national officer of the shop workers’ union Usdaw, said: “Morrisons has accepted and is recommending a buyout deal from the global investment manager Fortress and we note assurances for staff.

“We are now in discussions with Morrisons’ current management and the prospective new owners to ensure that our members’ interests and the long term future of the business are protected throughout this process.

“In the meantime we are providing our members with the support and advice they need through this period of uncertainty.”

The recommendation to Morrisons’ shareholders that the Fortress offer should be accepted follows an initial approach made to the company last month by another private equity firm, Clayton, Dubilier and Rice, based in New York.

Another New York private equity firm, Apollo, has also revealed its interest in a possible deal.