Around 140 footwear workers will lose their jobs at the end of this week when Mason Shoe Co, the world's largest distributor of mail-order shoes, closes its manufacturing plant in Chippewa Falls, Wis.

The company will, however, continue to run the distribution side of its business out of its Chippewa Falls plant, and will remain one of the city's largest employers with more than 400 workers.

Mason Shoe, which celebrates its centenary next year, said it was unable to compete with cheaper production overseas, and that next year all product lines included in its nine catalogues will be made offshore.

Mason is planning to debut its first line of women's clothing in 1994, under the label Maryland Square.