HUNDREDS of jobs are at risk at one of Devon’s biggest employers Axminster Carpets after the company applied to go into administration.

The household brand, which dates back to 1755, employs some 400 staff at its plant in east Devon.

The Company’s board of directors confirmed that a notice of intention to appoint administrators from Duff & Phelps has been filed.

A statement said the notice was filed to provide the firm and its creditors with a ‘moratorium period during which the various rescue options being explored can continue.’ Axminster’s director, Joshua Dutfield said: “Trading has been difficult and the management has been working with key suppliers, creditors and the lenders in an attempt to resolve the company's financial difficulties.

“We continue to be committed to working to achieve the best possible outcome for all concerned and most importantly the staff and suppliers.”

Tim Jones, from the Devon and Cornwall Business Council, added: "They just got to the point where the market wasn't with them and they didn't have that bit of luck to turn it round.

"It's desperately sad news for employees at a difficult time in the market generally.

"This doesn't just affect Axminster, they also have employees in the Buckfast area [in Devon] too."