ZF has informed employees at its Wearside plant about the proposed potential closure of the facility at the end of next year.

Its Rainton Bridge site, at Houghton-le-Spring, has a workforce of about 110, with staff involved in the production of motors for steering systems.

The German-based company said plant volumes have "fallen significantly" over recent years and the site has struggled to gain new business.

This, plus what it states is its "relatively-high cost footprint" for in-house motor production is said to be limiting its ability to remain competitive.

The automotive industry has been subject to a number of market challenges over the last two or three years which have been severely compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, with recovery expected to take several years.

Closure of the Houghton-le-Spring manufacturing facility is described as a necessary step to enable ZF to adapt capacities, competitiveness and footprint in line with future business requirements.

ZF said it will begin the collective consultation process ahead of the proposed plant closure date to give employees the opportunity to prepare for the future.

The company said it is "committed" to supporting its employees in finding new employment during the, "difficult period".