Up to 140 jobs will be lost at shoe maker Fii after the company behind brands such as Frank Wright and Lotus announced plans to axe its final factory and source overseas instead.

The Northampton-based company on Tuesday said it plans to shut its Banbridge plant in Northern Ireland amid fierce competition from cheap imports.

Fii chiefs were due to hold talks with union bosses today about the plant's closure which will leave it with just 40 employees. The company also makes its own label footwear for sale in department stores.

Fii, which last month revealed it had cut its full-year pre-tax losses to £690,000 from £7.9 million, also cited a downturn in orders for its synthetic products due to growing demand for leather shoes.

It added in a statement: "The board has concluded that in the current economic climate, it is no longer possible to produce footwear competitively in Banbridge.

"Fii is unable, therefore, to avoid proposals to consider closing its manufacturing facility, in spite of the efforts of all its employees who have enabled it to survive up to now."