HALF the workforce at a Bodmin book and magazine manufacturer could lose their jobs.
MPG Books Ltd will be closing its lithographic facility at the end of December with 64 employees at the Bodmin plant facing redundancy.
Earlier this year, the company acquired Cambridge University Press, the world's oldest printing company, and the litho operation is now switching to Cambridge.
Chief executive Tony Chard said at the time that the deal would help MPG Books Group increase its annual turnover to around £28m per annum and make it the largest independent book and journal manufacturer in the UK.
The firm presently employs 130 people in Bodmin.
A spokeswoman for the company said this week: "The litho operation at MPG Books Ltd, Bodmin, will be shutting down with effect from December 31. All operations at the facility in Suffolk will close at the same time.
"Digital printing will continue in Bodmin and litho production is being consolidated at our Cambridge site,'' she said.
"Currently the company is in a 30-day consultation with the 64 employees affected, and therefore can make no further comment at this time.''
Bodmin Chamber of Commerce chairman, Chris Wilkes, said the news that 64 people could lose their jobs was a huge blow and couldn't have come at a worse time of year.
"I recall that it was also just before Christmas that Fitzgerald Lighting in Bodmin announced a few years ago it was to close with many people losing their jobs.
"I can understand when firms merge, or a company acquires another, that there is always likely to be a rationalisation process with employees.
"But it also affects many people's lives.
"I do hope those who are made redundant can find alternative employment in the area, although everyone knows these are difficult times,'' said Mr Wilkes.
Bodmin mayor Ken Stubbs agreed with Mr Wilkes that people losing their jobs just before Christmas was particularly tough.
"It's very disappointing for the people concerned and for Bodmin itself.
"There's the prospect of a lot of positive job opportunities coming to Bodmin in the near future.
"But any news about people potentially losing their jobs in the town is not very good news, and I feel sad for the people affected,'' said Mr Stubbs.