A POOLE manufacturer is proposing to shed up to 40 jobs – around half its workforce.

AB Precision (Poole) Ltd, which has been in the town for more than 50 years, is quitting the automation business and concentrating on other sectors.

Managing director Stephen Judd confirmed that a maximum of around 40 jobs were at risk of redundancy.

He said the Fleets Lane company was getting out of automation – the supply of robotic machines for other manufacturers.

“We have concluded that the company will withdraw from the automation sector. It’s one of three centres in the company. The other two sectors we’re continuing to build and grow,” he said.

“We’ve got some proposed redundancies where people are in a consultation that ends in September. The maximum number it affects is 40 but it’s expected to be less than that.”

Most of the job losses are in manufacturing, with some in support functions.

The company reported earlier this year that sales in the automation sector were down significantly.

Mr Judd said: “It’s just really the business model restrictions and time scales that we have available to truly make a success of it. It demands quite a significant investment of cash and investment in order to grow it to a size that makes it truly sustainable.

“We want to concentrate on the strengths of the defence and security sector that’s the rest of the business.

“Those sectors are profitable and growing and have been for several years. There’s a huge opportunity for us in those areas.”

In its annual accounts for the year ending March 2017, the company said sales were down 37 per cent.

“Automation sales were significantly affected by a significant change in customer demand that was not able to be replaced in the short term,” it said.

Turnover was down to £9.07million from £14.3m the year before, while profit was down from £1.04m to £25,862.

The workforce stood at 76.

AB Precision, known as ABP, traces its history to 1966, when it was mainly a contractor to the Ministry of Defence. Its teams work around the world on areas including automation, postal mechanisation, explosive disposal and specialist military products.