A total of fifty-six jobs are to go at Desmonds Textile company. The firm plans to reduce employment in its lightwear division factory at Claudy and close a cutting room in Drumahoe.

The move follows the closure of the company's factories at Magherafelt in County Londonderry and Enniskillen in County Fermanagh over the past two years. Management of Desmonds informed workers at both plants last Thursday and met with unions to discuss their plans.

A spokesman for Desmonds said: "Because customer demand favours outerwear products over lightwear products, Desmonds is seeking to redeploy a number of people between factories and is offering a voluntary redundancy scheme.

"We propose to reduce employment in our lightwear division factory at Claudy by 47 to 110 and to close our cutting room at Drumahoe, which will affect nine jobs. Cutting will be consolidated at the divisional headquarters at Irvinestown.

"Because of the strength of our outerwear business, we are able to offer redeployment to the Newbuildings and Springtown factories for 60 per cent of those affected."

More than 4,000 jobs have been lost in the textiles industry in the province over the last two years.

Last September, Desmonds announced it was stopping production at its factory in Enniskillen with the loss of 118 full-time and 17 part-time jobs.

The firm, which had been established in the town for the last 17 years, said the move had come about because of "significant changes" in shopping patterns which had affected UK demand.

In the autumn of 1999, the firm announced that it was making about 130 workers redundant with the closure of its smallest factory in Magherafelt. After a process of re-deployment, 94 people lost their jobs at this plant.