Chartham Paper Mill shuts down with dozens of jobs lost as owners placed into administration

Dozens of people have lost their jobs as a 284-year-old Kent business has suddenly been shut down.

Residents have been expressing their dismay as Chartham Paper Mill, near Canterburyhas been placed into administration.

Chartham Paper Mill
Chartham Paper Mill

Two years ago 80 jobs were saved at the site when a successful buyout was negotiated following insolvency proceedings against French parent company Arjowiggens and Sequana.

But now Arjowiggins Group’s UK operations – which owns historic mills at Chartham and Stoneywood in Scotland – has been placed in administration again, in a blow to UK paper making industry.

Administrators Blair Nimmo and Alistair McAlinden from Interpath Advisory were appointed at 10 Arjowiggins Group UK subsidiary companies yesterday.

The joint administrators have made 368 of the company’s 463 UK-based employees redundant immediately.

About 90 people are understood to work at Chartham Paper Mill, with 67 thought to have lost their jobs.

“A very sad day not only for those who have lost their jobs but for the village as a whole …”

Hundreds have been made redundant at the firm’s site in Scotland.

Paper production at Chartham Mill dates back to 1738, and the site has more recently been known for producing translucent papers.

Residents have been reacting to the “dreadful news” on Facebook.

One said: “A very sad day. I was there 17 years.”

A former employee who worked at the site for “34 wonderful years between 1967 and 2001 said:” Wow can’t quite believe it. It was the most amazing time in my working life. “

Chartham paper mill.  Picture: Chris Davey
Chartham paper mill. Picture: Chris Davey

Another who was there for 32 years said: “A very sad day not only for those who have lost their jobs but for the village as a whole. It was the heart of the village.

“Let’s hope that someone can be found to take up the reins once again.”

A statement from Interpath Advisory said: “Unfortunately, the Group has faced a difficult trading environment since the negative impact of COVID-19 on trading and cashflow which meant that the Group has been loss-making, with losses exacerbated in more recent times by the significant increases in energy costs and the price of raw materials, including pulp.

“The directors of the Group worked extensively, exploring all options to safeguard the future of the business, but with a solvent solution unable to be secured, took the difficult decision to place the Group’s UK companies into administration.

“Regrettably, the joint administrators made 368 of the Group’s 463 UK-based employees redundant immediately following their appointment. A total of 95 members of staff have been retained by the joint administrators to assist them with the operation of limited activity across the two sites whilst they explore any possibility of a sale of the sites and assets. “

Blair Nimmo, chief executive of Interpath Advisory and joint administrator, said: “Arjowiggins has a long and proud history dating back more than 260 years, so this is immensely troubling news for UK and Scottish manufacturing.

“Unfortunately, and following on from the severe challenges posed by the pandemic, the significant economic headwinds which have been impacting industrial manufacturing businesses up and down the country, including skyrocketing energy costs and spiralling input prices, have proved to be overwhelming for the Group. “

Mr Nimmo added: “The management team has asked that we pass on their sincere thanks to all employees, customers and suppliers, plus Scottish Enterprise, for their strong support during these very difficult times, and they would like to express their deep regret that there was unfortunately no other option available for this historic Group. “

Alistair McAlinden, managing director at Interpath Advisory and joint administrator, added: “We understand this is an incredibly difficult time for the Group’s workforce. Our priority is to work closely with the Unions, UK and Scottish Government agencies, including PACE and Job Center Plus, as well the relevant local authorities to provide members of staff with all of the support and information they need, including the information necessary to make claims for redundancy pay from the Redundancy Payments Office.

“Over the coming days and weeks, we will be exploring options to achieve the sale of the sites and assets and would ask that potential interested parties contact us as a matter of urgency.”

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