Calls for buyer to save troubled Stoneywood paper mill

Stoneywood paper mill
Stoneywood paper mill

Calls have been made for the Scottish Government to form a taskforce to help a troubled Aberdeen papermill find a new owner and safeguard nearly 500 jobs.

The fate of Stoneywood Mill hangs in the balance after its owner, French company Sequana, filed a notice of administration for a number of its UK firms.

The firm filed for receivership proceedings in France earlier this month, at the request of Arjowiggins and some of its subsidiaries, including Arjowiggins Fine Papers Ltd, which owns Stoneywood Mill.

Iain Fraser, Tom MacLennan and Geoff Rowley, partners at specialist advisory firm FRP Advisory LLP, were yesterday named joint administrators for the firm, which employs 489 staff at the Aberdeen site.

Mark McDonald, MSP for Aberdeen Donside, has written to Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, urging him to form a taskforce to secure ongoing support in the form of loans, grants and training opportunities from organisations in the area, as well as to assist in any discussions with potential investors or prospective bidders.

Administrator Mr Fraser said: “There are no immediate plans for any redundancies.

“Our priority at the moment is trying to secure a buyer and we are attempting to engage with any potential purchasers.

“Over the course of the day we have been talking to staff at the mill.

“We are trying to ensure we have critical supplies in place to maintain services. That is a key issue for us right now.”

Gallery: Historic Stoneywood paper mill through the decades

Unite the union said there was “anger and confusion” over the way information was handled after local management informed union stewards on Monday that the company was not in administration.

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

“If it is indeed the case the company is in administration, we will seek an urgent meeting with representatives of the company as well as 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.”

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The business will continue to trade while a buyer is sought.

Interested parties are urged to make contact with the firm as soon as possible.

Arjowiggins Fine Papers Limited has a turnover of £120 million, and employs around 500 staff across Aberdeen and Basingstoke.

Mr McDonald said: “Having spoken to the business and to trade unions, I am certain the commitment is there on all sides to see a successful outcome and ensure jobs are protected for what is a highly skilled workforce.

“I am aware that Scottish Government has taken a strong involvement in other parts of Scotland where companies enter into periods of difficulty, and would be grateful if something similar could be done to help Stoneywood Mill to safeguard jobs.”

Mr Hepburn said: “I am concerned to learn of the situation with Arjowiggins based in Aberdeen.

“Our focus at this stage is on supporting the business and doing all we can to try to minimise the impact on the workforce.”