AN AWARD-winning shopkeeper whose convenience store was raided by a knife-wielding robber hopes the criminal's distinctive bag will help police to trace him.

Two female assistants were working in Baz Jethwa's Costcutter branch in Plodder Lane, Farnworth, when the attacker burst in.

He brandished the weapon while carrying a red satchel-style bag with a white floral design over his shoulder.

Mr Jethwa, aged 31, said: "We had customers in the store and this youth came in with a knife, shouting: 'Give me the money!'

"He went into the middle of the store and said again: 'Give me the money.' The female customer ran out of the shop.

"The lady behind the counter said: 'We can't open the till, so we can't give you the money.'

"He held the knife out. It was like a kitchen knife and he pointed it towards the lady and then pointed it towards the other staff member assisting a customer.

"He walked towards the staff member who was with the customer and the customer pulled some stock on to the floor to stop the robber coming any further forward, like a barrier.

"At that point he jumped over the counter.

"The next thing, he's ripped the till out of the counter and has run off with the cash drawer."

Both members of the staff and the customers were unharmed during the two-minute ordeal on Tuesday, January 5 at 8pm.

The criminal escaped on foot with about £350 in cash.

Mr Jethwa said: "The staff were very petrified. They were just so shaken up.

"The main thing us that the staff are all right and the customers are all right. Money is replaceable and our lives are more important. In 11 years we have never witnessed anything like this."

The robber is described as a white man in his early 20s who spoke with a local accent.

He wore a scarf over his face and had pulled the hood of his light-coloured Adidas zip-up top tightly around his face.

The man wore tracksuit bottoms and Nike trainers, but his accessories were distinctive.

Mr Jethwa, who also owns Costcutter in Campbell Street, Farnworth, said: "His bag is very distinctive. It's like a baby changing bag. It's got a floral print on it as well.

"He did open it, while he was shouting 'Give me the money', thinking that staff would give him the money and he could put it straight inside the bag. If we can find the bag, we can find him."

In 2015 Mr Jethwa won the medium-sized store category in the Independent Retailer of the Year Award at the Retail Industry Awards, the Best Bakery Retailer Award at the Asian Trader Awards and Costcutter's internal Sales Growth of the Year Award.

His store closes for two weeks on January 29 for a £250,000 refit and will reopen on February 11.