Exide Technologies, the global manufacturer of lead-acid batteries, has announced the loss of 400 jobs following the decision to close its site in Bolton.

The group, which owns the CMP Batteries site in Over Hulton, said that the closure was a result of the global economic slowdown and restrictive credit markets.

John Rowse, Unite’s national officer, has criticised the move, claiming it will see the end for heavy-duty battery cell production in the UK.

He said: 'Already our submarine fleet is powered by batteries imported into the UK when production ceased at Exide's competitor's plant in Swinton, Manchester.

'Originally both were part of the Chloride group. Now Exide is going the same way.'

Rowse added: ‘It seems ludicrous that a company supplying a range of products powering electric vehicles should be closing at a time when demand for this technology is growing. It is true that lead-acid batteries are not leading-edge but they still have an important role to play powering a variety of off-road electric vehicles and will continue to do so.'

The group recently reported first-quarter losses of $54m (£31.9m), compared with a loss of $10.3m a year ago. Overall unit volumes fell 28 per cent with restructuring costs and impairment charges denting profits by $39.5m.

Gordon Ulsh, president and chief executive of the group, is confident the restructuring efforts will lead to a stronger performance in the medium term. He said: ‘We continue the difficult work necessary to align our cost structure appropriately to market conditions and expect this work to pay significant dividends in the second half of fiscal 2010.'