The owner of the Iceland supermarket chain has sold all of its 27 Irish-based stores in order to focus on its UK business.

Iceland Foods said it sold its entire shareholding in the Irish operation to The Project Point Technologies, which it said intends to continue operating the stores under the Iceland brand as part of a franchise agreement.

In a statement, the company said the sale does not affect the employment status of Iceland employees here.

The Iceland business in Northern Ireland, comprising 35 Iceland and two 'The Food Warehouse' stores, is not affected by the sale.

"In the ten years since we took direct control of our stores in the Republic of Ireland, we have successfully grown the business from seven to 27 stores, created a substantial number of new jobs, and built mutually beneficial relationships with many new Irish suppliers," Iceland Foods group chief executive Tarsem Dhaliwal said.

"However, we have now decided that it is right to focus on retail opportunities within the UK and on the growth of our export business, and to place our stores in the Republic of Ireland on the same franchise partnership basis which operates successfully in other parts of Europe," he added.

The Head of The Project Point Technologies, Naeem Maniar, was previously the Iceland franchisee in Ireland from 2008 to 2013.

Local Councillor for Ballyfermot-Drimnagh Daithí Doolan said the company changed hands on Wednesday "without any consultation with staff or management. This was unacceptable and wrong".

"Staff were told by text that they no longer worked for Iceland but were to go to work as normal the following day. This is an insulting way to treat staff. Staff are understandably very stressed about the future of their jobs. Staff have families to care for, bills to pay and mortgages to pay," he said.

"The new company must give an assurance that pay and conditions remain the same. The company must also urgently engage in face to face meetings with staff and give a guarantee that all jobs at all 27 stores are safe. Nothing less is acceptable for these workers," he added.