‘Positive meeting’ over future of at-risk paper mill

A meeting has been held over the future of a paper mill that was placed into administration, putting almost 500 jobs at risk.

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

The Aberdeen mill has operated since 1770 – currently with a turnover of £120 million – and 489 staff there face the threat of redundancy along with 29 colleagues based in Basingstoke, Hampshire.

Stakeholders were joined by representatives from Arjowiggins, the Scottish Government, administrators and Unite the union in the meeting to discuss possible next steps after last week’s announcement.

Jonathan Mitchell, managing director of the mill, said: “We appreciate the support from everyone involved in today’s meeting.

“Stoneywood Mill has a strong, dedicated workforce and great relationship with the local community so it was heartening to hear everyone involved in today agreeing positive steps forward.

“We will continue to work closely with government, the administrators, unions and other stakeholders to find a positive outcome for the business.”

A number of SNP representatives in the north-east had contacted Jamie Hepburn, the Scottish Government Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, about the mill when the administration was announced.

After Wednesday’s “positive meeting”, Mr Hepburn said: “Everyone wants what is best for the workforce and company so our focus is on supporting the business and the administrators in doing all we can to safeguard jobs at the mill.

“In particular, I was struck by the unity and morale of the workforce. It was also clear from the meeting that the unions, workforce and company, as well as other stakeholders, are all keen to work together to find a solution.

“The Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise will continue to work closely with all partners to explore and exhaust all possible options to try and find the best possible outcome to secure a sustainable future for the mill and its workforce.”

Tommy Campbell, Unite regional officer, said: “Unite the union welcome the Scottish Government Minister Jamie Hepburn’s visit to Stoneywood Paper Mill.

“His visit will help lift the morale of the workforce and will add to the positive work being done by all concerned to secure a long term future for the mill.”

Other Arjowiggins companies placed into administration include 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).

Joint administrator Iain Fraser, partner with FRP Advisor, said: “We are actively marketing the business and have had some enquiries, however it is early days.

“We are liaising regularly with staff, customers and suppliers to ensure the plant is operating as efficiently as possible.

“Our core objective is to find a buyer as soon as possible and we are urging interested parties to contact our Aberdeen office on 0330 055 5455.”