A Christchurch contracting business that employs about 20 staff is set to close, with a boss saying the city's market is an "absolute disaster."

Ian Cole, JFC chief operating officer, said today: "We have a small branch office in Christchurch which will close either later this year or early next year. It has maybe about 20 staff."

Layoffs were planned due to lack of work, he said but two water contracts would be finished before the closure.

"It's been a slowing up of the branch and its work over time. There's no great surprise. The market is an absolute disaster down there," Cole said of Christchurch.

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"We probably had a maximum two years ago of 120 staff. A few of them - about 20 to 30 - have relocated to Auckland but some can't due to having homes and families there. Work has been diminishing over time. A lot of people moved there after the earthquakes," he said.

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Cole said the staff were being dealt with "in the correct fashion."

Projects in Christchurch were now being finished but the Auckland office would remain open, Cole stressed. That Auckland office had around 300 staff, he said. Christchurch jobs had included Government and council work, he said.

In Christchurch, JFC is in Addington and in Auckland at Māngere.

The business was originally John Fillmore Contracting.

"JFC is a market leading infrastructure and civil construction company. Since 1968, our brand has been behind some of New Zealand's most high profile streetscape, earthworks, drainage, roading and landscaping projects," the business says.

"When John Fillmore formed the company, he created a strong family culture based on being true to your word and consistently exceeding customers' expectations."