A KNIFEMAN threatened staff in a town centre travel agent before making off with stolen foreign currency.

Employees at Thomson Travel Agents in Blackburn Road, Accrington were threatened with a kitchen knife as the robber demanded money.

Detectives are now hunting a man in his 30s who entered the shop wearing dark clothing.

He forced staff to open the safe and escaped with an undisclosed sum of cash, in various currencies before leaving on foot through the main entrance at around 10am yesterday.

There were no customers in the store during the armed robbery. After the incident employees closed the shop to speak with police officers, directing customers to a main customer service number.

Traders and shoppers spoke of their shock following the incident, across the road from Accrington Market Hall.

One said: “I am quite concerned this has happened yards away from where I trade. I’m concerned about the staff too. They’re nice people in the travel agents and shouldn’t have had to go through this. I hope they catch him.”

Shopper Natalie Owen, from Accrington said: “I think this is just awful. People should be able to go to work or go shopping without dealing with this happening.”

Market hall cafe owner Peter Britcliffe said: “This is just terrible news and shocking it has happened on the doorstep. I hope the staff are OK and that police catch the person responsible. It is really quite horrible.”

Detective Sergeant Ian Procter said: “Fortunately nobody was hurt during this robbery but this is a serious offence and I would reassure people that an investigation is underway. I’d also appeal to anybody that witnessed this incident or saw anybody acting suspiciously in the area around the time of the robbery to contact police.”

The offender is described as being white, aged in his 30s and with a heavy build. He was wearing a dark jacket and dark hat. Anyone with information is asked to call independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or Lancashire police on 101.