THE boss of one of Herefordshire's largest employers has moved to quell staff fears about the future of the business.

Mike Tomkins, chief executive of M and M Direct, in Leominster, has confirmed a review of the future plans is being undertaken.

He made the comments after it emerged that private equity company ECI Partners, which owns nearly half the business, have appointed accountants Deloitte to undertake a review.

But he said a range of options were likely to emerge and said reports that M and M would be sold were "speculation".

He has written to all employees to tell them what is happening and to try to calm fears about the future.

"We are a hugely successful business and there has been constant speculation going on for about two years.

"I want to reassure our staff that they work for a thriving concern and whatever happens, it will involve taking the company forward," said Mike Tomkins.

"At a time when retail is struggling and there is zero growth on the high street, our business has been expanding by 20% a year, which is an incredible achievement."

M and M Direct was founded 20 years ago and employs nearly 500 people in Herefordshire.

Its annual turnover is £63 million, which represents an increase of 50% on the situation three years ago.

During that time, the company has also created an additional 100 jobs at its premises in Leominster.

Mike Tomkins said the review had been ongoing for about two months and was expected to be completed in the summer.

One of a number of possible outcomes included listing on AIMS - the alternative stock market.