TE Connectivity in Bideford, formerly known as Tyco Electronics, is to be closed down with the loss of around 250 jobs by the end of 2013.
The Journal has learned the company, which makes parts for electronic goods, plans to move all manufacturing operations at its Bideford factory to another site.
The company confirmed that staff had been gathered together at around 2pm yesterday to be told the news.
TE Connectivity spokesman Tom Peacock confirmed “a proposal” to close the factory was announced to employees earlier today, although he also said the company is required to go through consultation over the redundancies.
“Basically what we’ve announced is a proposal to consolidate all our manufacturing at one or two sites,” he said. “Where that will be isn’t really clear yet.”
He added that the closure of the factory is expected to be complete by the end of 2013, although a few staff in office based roles are not affected by the proposals.
“Whether or not those staff will remain in Bideford we don’t know,” he said.
The factory currently operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a highly skilled workforce but will soon be vacant after the latest blow to North Devon’s economy.
MP for Torridge and West Devon Geoffrey Cox said he is currently trying to contact TE and establish whether the decision is irreversible.
“If it is,” he said, “then clearly it’s very disappointing and exceptionally sad for the workforce and their families.
“I will do everything I can to give the maximum help and extra support to those affected.
“We need to help those people who are facing what could be a very difficult situation.”
Steve Clarke, a Bideford Town Councillor, Torridge District Councillor and owner of SEL Clarke Construction Ltd, said it was a “very sad moment” for Bideford.
He said: “It will affect such a lot of people not just the people working there. The suppliers then all the transport companies who deliver there. It is bad news for the South West.”
John Emms, the president of Bideford Chamber of Commerce, said: “The chamber is shocked to hear the news a main employer in Bideford is closing. We are devastated for the workforce and their families.”
The company, which employs up to ten apprentices at a time at the site and also has a graduate recruitment scheme, has been based on Chubb Road in Bideford since 1964 and originally started apprentice training in 1965.
Deputy Leader Cllr Roger Johnson: ‘This is devastating news for the people of Bideford and the whole area. I have been made redundant before so I do know what it’s like, and friends of mine currently work at TE. Torridge will do everything we can to help those affected. Some employers say there is a lack of skilled workers available locally – hopefully we can get some of them together and match up some of those who are about to lose their jobs with their own skill shortages.’
Torridge lead member for the economy Cllr Phil Collins: ‘The loss of one job in Torridge is a disaster to the individual – this is a disaster which will cause a ripple effect throughout the district. A huge loss to the local economy.’
John Gray, 87, of Churchill Road, Bideford said the news is "devastating" for the local area.
He said: "Of course this sort of stuff is happening all over the country but that doesn’t make it any easier to take.
“Think of all the local families that will suffer as a result of this. Hundreds of jobs will go and the impact on Bideford and surrounding areas will be awful.”
Rachel Jackson, of Bideford, said it is a "disaster".
He said: “This is terrible news. There are not enough jobs as it is and this will just make things so much worse.
“Jobs going anywhere is bad enough but hundreds of them going is a disaster.”
Ken Moore, owner of surfing and cycling store Freebird, in Bideford, said the closure of Tyco is just more "doom and gloom" for the town.
He said: "This town just can’t take any more of this.
“It's on its knees. Things have been getting steadily worse ever since Woolworths closed three years ago.
“The closure of Tyco Electronics is bound to have a huge effect on trade – it’s terrible.
“We’re all hanging on by the skin of our teeth and when one of the biggest employers in the area closes it can’t possibly help the situation can it?
“The vast majority of the workers there live locally and I’m sure they’re all very upset.”
Stephen Moules, owner of Watsons Newsagents, said the closure would do "nothing but harm Bideford".
He said: “We are barely ticking over as it is and this will inflict further damage on local trade.
“I’ve heard some of the workforce will keep their jobs until August – but nothing has been confirmed to the workers themselves.
“My son-in-law works there and he is upset, as we all are, about the news. It is very sad indeed.”
In an official statement released today, TE Connectivity said: "TE Connectivity is announcing a proposal that 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."