Clothing manufacturer and Marks & Spencer supplier Dewhirst is to axe more than 400 UK jobs as it continues its switch to sourcing from overseas.

The company said it will close its Ashington plant in Northumberland and move production to Morocco due to lower labour costs and pressure from M&S.

The latest closure, which comes amid losses of £35,000 a week, follows the axing of similar factories in Wales earlier this year with the loss of around 1,000 jobs.

Union officials and council chiefs were due to meet today to discuss the situation.

A spokesman for the General Municipal and Boilermakers union said: "We are extremely angry at the closure announcement. We intend to resist the closure. We have been working with the company to bring new contracts to Ashington."