A British man thought to have drowned while on holiday in Sicily worked as an office manager at Rebro Hydraulics in Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent.
The man, named locally as Andrew Sturgess, died after getting into difficulty in the sea at Tre Fontane beach in the village of Campobello di Mazara in the south-west of the Italian island.
His girlfriend was found a few yards away, according to local news reports.
A director from the company told ITV News Central: "Andrew Sturgess was an honest and dedicated man who had worked at the company for more than 10 years. He was like one of the family."
"We are all deeply shocked and saddened. Andrew had been looking forward to meeting his fiance's family in Italy for the first time. We have closed our office today as a mark of respect."
More top news
Bright and sunny, though rather cold.
Mostly dry. Cloudy in the north, brighter in the south.
Five former Navy officers have been awarded France's highest military honour at a special ceremony.