MORE than a quarter of the workforce at a Holton Heath technology company will lose their jobs as part of the firm's manufacturing move to China.

Westwind Air Bearings, based on the Holton Heath Industrial Estate, said there would be 75 redundancies this year.

Another 50 staff from Poole-based recruitment agency Smart will also lose their positions at Westwind.

It is understood that after a period of consultation, staff will start to lose jobs this month, then throughout the year.

A statement issued by managing director Steve Webb said the company was rationalising its product range and increasing the capability to manufacture in its Suzhou factory in China.

The statement said: "It is with considerable regret that I have to announce a major restructuring at Westwind Air Bearings.

"This move is to better prepare us for our highly competitive Far Eastern markets."

Mr Webb said the move was designed to reduce costs and to position the company as a leader in a fast expanding market.

But he stressed that the Holton Heath factory would continue production for the foreseeable future.

Westwind, sold to motion and laser systems manufacturer GSI in 2003, owns a site in Japan and two each in the USA and China.

At the peak of the market in 2000, it was employing around 650 staff.

By late 2001, the Westwind workforce had been cut to just 300 after a wave of redundancies caused by the global downturn in the electronics industry.

The company is a world leader in the production of sophisticated air bearings, used at the heart of precision drills used to make tiny holes in circuit boards for electronic equipment such as DVD players.