A North Devon manufacturer described as a "mainstay" of the local economy is set to close with the loss of around 250 jobs.
TE Connectivity in Bideford plans to move all operations at its factory to other facilities, which are understood to be located overseas.
The manufacturer, which makes parts for electronic goods, has been located in the town for almost 50 years.
In a written statement, a spokesman for the Philadelphia-based group formerly known as Tyco Electronics confirmed: "Production at the Bideford manufacturing site will transfer to other TE facilities and that the Bideford manufacturing site will close by the end of 2013. After an extensive evaluation process, TE has come to this decision in order to maximise efficiencies within its industrial business.
"This action would affect approximately 250 TE employees, and we have started a 90-day consultation period with them.
"We recognise the impact this decision will have on our employees, and if the proposed action takes place, we will provide comprehensive outplacement support and a redundancy package."
An anonymous caller told the WMN how staff had been gathered together at around 2pm yesterday when the news was broken to them.
The factory currently operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a highly skilled workforce.
TE Connectivity also employs up to ten apprentices at a time at the site and has a graduate recruitment scheme. It has been based on Chubb Road in Bideford since 1964 and originally started apprentice training in 1965.
The electronics company also sourced agency staff from Concept Staffing, which now trades as Acorn.
Devon and Cornwall Business Council chairman Tim Jones said that the cost to North Devon jobs could also reach further into the local supply chain, describing the news as "a real bolt from the blue".
He said: "The company has been one of the mainstays of the North Devon economy and offering high quality jobs. There's likely to be a significant impact in the supply chain, with independent companies. It illustrates how fragile the economy still is.
"Part of the alarm particularly in this area is that GDP and output are already low. We're now going to have to work extremely hard to find jobs and opportunities for people in the company."