A SOUTHAMPTON company which manufactures bespoke prescription lenses will temporarily close due to the coronavirus crisis.

Almost all of the 177 employees at Airways Optical will be consulted under the new Government furlough scheme to protect jobs.

The business, owned by Specsavers, will close on Wednesday April 1 until further notice after seeing a huge fall in production.

Usually the plant in Wide Lane produces 85,000 lenses a week but output has fallen to virtually zero after a collapse in demand.

Specsavers announced on Monday that stores would only be seeing customers for urgent and essential care.

Director of Manufacturing and Distribution Adrian Tune said: "We are grateful that the Government job retention scheme allows us to look after our colleagues at this difficult time and protect their jobs for the future. We look forward to welcoming them back to work as soon as possible."

A small number of colleagues will be kept on to carry out essential maintenance checks at the sites while they are closed.