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Hundreds of jobs at risk as paper mill owner enters administration

UK News | Published:

Almost 500 staff are based at the Stoneywood Mill in Aberdeen, one of a number of sites run by Sequana.

Aberdeen

Hundreds of workers face an uncertain future as a paper mill in production for nearly 250 years was placed into administration.

Arjowiggins Fine Papers at the Stoneywood Mill in Aberdeen is one of a number of UK businesses facing the measure from French parent company Sequana.

It follows the firm filing a petition on January 8 to begin receivership proceedings for various subsidiaries in France.

The Aberdeen mill has been in operation since 1770 and has a turnover of £120 million but now 489 staff face the threat of redundancy, along with 29 based in Basingstoke, Hampshire.

  • Arjowiggins Fine Papers Limited - Aberdeen (489 staff) and Basingstoke, Hampshire (29 staff)
  • Argowiggins Chartham Limited - Chartham, Kent (90 staff)
  • Arjobex Limited - Clacton-on-Sea, Essex (48 staff)
  • Performance Papers Limited - Manchester (11 staff)
  • The Wiggins Teape Group Limited - Manchester (seven staff)

Joint administrator Iain Fraser, partner with FRP Advisory, said: “The Stoneywood Mill in Aberdeen has a long tradition and reputation for producing fine and creative papers of the very highest quality for a global customer base.

“Unfortunately, the business has been severely affected by rising costs and difficult trading conditions, and the insolvency proceedings begun in France left the directors no option but to place the UK companies in administration.

“We will continue to trade the business whilst exploring all options for securing a future for the site.”

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Other Arjowiggins companies placed into administration include at Chartham, Kent (90 staff); Arjobex in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex (48 staff), Performance Papers in Manchester (11 staff) and the Wiggins Teape Group, also in Manchester (seven staff).

A Sequana statement said: “Following the receivership proceedings opened in France at the request of Arjowiggins and some of its subsidiaries, the boards of directors of some of Arjowiggins’ companies in the UK have decided to file notices of appointment of an Administrator for the following companies AW UK Holdings Ltd, Arjo Wiggins Fine Papers Ltd, ArjoWiggins Chartham Ltd, AW UK Holdings Ltd, Arjowiggins Sourcing Ltd, Arjobex Ltd and Performance Papers Ltd.

“These companies operate the mills of Stoneywood, Chartham and Clacton.

“Under the aegis of administrators, these procedures will help support the measures undertaken to find buyers for Arjowiggins’ businesses.”

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Tommy Campbell, Unite industrial officer, said: “Unite is seeking clarity about the position of the site.

“If it is indeed the case that the company is in administration, we will seek an urgent meeting with representatives of the company as well as the Scottish Government to see what can be done to find a buyer and save jobs at this site.

“This is an anxious time for staff at the plant, and for the local economy of the north-east.

“Stoneywood has been a very successful business for almost 250 years, and these workers and their families deserve a future after contributing the most into making this site a profitable and continuous success for generations.”

Unite national officer for the paper industry, Louisa Bull, said: “We have had a good relationship with the company over many years and this is a good basis for exploring options for a new purchaser.

“The administrators being called in should be seen in the context of the parent company’s Sequana past legal problems. It is not related to Brexit uncertainty.

“However, we appreciate that this is a very difficult time for our members and their families, and Unite will be giving them maximum support in the days and weeks ahead.”

Kirsty Blackman
Kirsty Blackman MP (Aberdeen North) is among those who have written to Jamie Hepburn (PA)

A number of SNP representatives in the north east have contacted Jamie Hepburn – Scottish Government Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills – regarding the mill.

The joint letter was sent by MSPs Gillian Martin and Kevin Stewart, MP Kirsty Blackman and local councillors Gill Samarai and Neil MacGregor.

They said: “The news is of course deeply concerning – however we hope that with the support of the Scottish Government a new buyer can be found as soon as possible.

“We will continue to do all we can to support the Scottish Government’s efforts to secure a bright future for the plant and the hundreds of jobs that depend on it.

“We have invited the minister to an urgent meeting with Arjowiggins management, employee representatives and trade union groups to identify the next steps in our joint effort to keep this historic site in operation.”

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