An armed robber held up an Ashburton Dairy and fled with cash last night.

Ashburton sub-area commander Senior Sergeant Philip Dean said a man entered the Ashburton Discount Dairy on Alford Forest Rd about 8.20pm armed with a long-barrelled firearm.

He threatened a staff member and stole cash, then fled on foot along Clark St.

Police have released a picture that shows a man with silver tape or a mask over his face and wearing an orange hi-vis top over blue clothing.

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Anyone who recognises the man or noticed anything suspicious at the time is urged to phone police on (03) 307 8400, quoting file number 180427/3253.

Information can also be shared anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.