Coats Viyella has begun the phased closure of its Lisnakea factory, with 140 wrokers set to lose their jobs, the Irish Times reported.

Coats Viyella now employs around 400 workers in the North, down from 2,000 five years ago. The company said competition from low cost manufacturers in the Far East had forced it to close plants.

Ms Linda McHugh, director of the Northern Ireland Textile Association, many companies in the North are being forced to reposition themselves because of increased competition.

Thousands of jobs have been lost in the North's textile sector in the last five years and analysts expect a further 13,500 jobs to go over the next five years.