Fears the Clarks will close one of its two remaining West Country factories have grown with the news that the shoe maker is offering voluntary redundancy packages to 25 of its 130 workers in North Devon.

The firm has been in Barnstaple for 35 years. But after the announcement of job cuts, many feel it is only a matter of time before the factory closes for good.

John Keery, spokesman for Clarks Ltd, yesterday told the Western Morning News that: "The plant will remain open as long as it remains competitive."

Competition from low labour cost countries has been blamed for the decision.