FIFTY workers have been told just days before Christmas that they will lose their jobs next year.

The jobs will be shed at mail order firm Littlewoods Shop Direct, which is to close its warehouse at Lorne Street, Farnworth.

The proposed closure will take place in August, 2007.

The company said it was announcing the news because it was committed to informing employees as soon as a decision had been taken.

The company added that no redundancies would take place before March, 2007.

The announcement follows a review of the company's warehousing operation, which has taken into account a projected increase in the volume and physical size of products and the ability of the warehouse in Lorne Street to accommodate an increase in business.

It is likely that work from the depot, which stores and distributes goods for the Kays Catalogue brand, will transfer to a larger depot in Shaw, but the company said it was possible that other jobs might be available at smaller sites in Little Hulton and Deane.

A statement from Littlewoods Shop Direct said: "Regrettably, the company believes that the Lorne Street warehouse has significant limitations, and is unsuitable to meet the future needs of the warehousing operation.

"It is proposed that the work will be transferred to a third-party operation, which operates a facility that is better suited to meet the changing requirements.

"The company is committed, alongside the union, to providing advice and support to all affected employees seeking redeployment or employment elsewhere."

Val Pugh, national officer for trade union Usdaw, said: "We had a meeting a couple of weeks ago when the company's proposal was outlined. This is a severe blow to the guys in Farnworth, many of whom have worked there for many years.

"We will ensure that our members are offered any other jobs within the company first but, during the consultation period, we will also need to examine the business case for this proposal."

The review of the company's warehousing operation, has already led to the proposed closure of depots in Wigan, Worcester and Eccles next year, with the work transferring to Shaw.

Nationally, Littlewoods Shop Direct Group turns over £2.1 billion per year and employs 21,500 people.