EIGHTY jobs are set to be axed at two York businesses as managers strive to cut costs and address 'very difficult' trading challenges.

The potential redundancies are looming at Portasilo and Portastor, two sister companies based at Huntington and employing a total of about 250 staff.

A spokesman said the businesses, which are part of the family-run construction firm Shepherd Group, were entering into consultation with employees and their representatives with a view to restructuring and reducing costs.

He said significant efforts had already been directed towards addressing the very difficult trading challenges experienced by both businesses in recent years.

"We now need to take action on a wider front to reorganise and restructure in order to be more competitive in our chosen markets," he said.

"In some areas, the restructuring may involve changes in responsibility or reporting lines and in others there will be a reduction in the workforce.

"In total, we anticipate a potential redundancy of 80 positions across the two companies as a result of these proposals."

He said the businesses would be consulting with employees at risk of redundancy and the eventual numbers affected would be dependent on the outcome of the consultation process.

"This is not a decision that has been taken lightly," he said. "We appreciate these proposals mean that employees will be facing a period of uncertainty about their future and we will do what we can to minimise this uncertainty, including providing regular updates to all employees throughout the consultation period."

He said Portasilo and Portastor manufactured and supplied plant and systems for the storage and handling of particulate materials, while Portastor was a specialist in factory-manufactured buildings to provide safe, secure adaptable accommodation for essential equipment in many industrial sectors.

He stressed that Shepherd Group as a whole was a very successful business, and its well known division Portakabin was exceptionally successful and expanding.

Workers at Portsilo and Portastor were first warned in late 2013 that their jobs could be at risk through plans to re-structure and reduce the cost base, due to "current adverse trading conditions" and "delays in winning new orders."

The union Unite, which represents some of the affected workers, was unable to comment.