A FARNBOROUGH eye-care factory, which was taken-over earlier this year, is to close with the loss of 140 jobs.

CooperVision has announced that it is moving the production of its soft contact lenses from its Hawley Lane premises to its UK headquarters at Southampton.

The shock news comes only a few months after the company took over the business from Biocompatibles, which in turn had acquired the business from Hydron in March 2000.

Hydron's link with Farnborough dated back to the 1970s.

Dick Meredith, CooperVision's general manager of operations, said: "We need to make the best use of our resources if we are to compete successfully in the global market."

Redundancy packages will be offered to all 140 employees, but it is hoped that some will agree to move to the Southampton site.

The phased shut-down is due to take place over the next 14 months, and during that time each member of staff will be seen individually to discuss the future.

"We will support them through what we realise could be a difficult transition period," said Mr Meredith.

The company has already set up a "job shop", together with a training programme, to help employees find future jobs.

CooperVision describes itself as a leading global manufacturer of advanced soft contact lenses.