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Jobs lost at French Arjowiggins sites

After a lengthy court case, the Commercial Court of Nanterre has confirmed the liquidation of three Arjowiggins sites in France.

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The Bessé-sur-Braye mill in France

The news arrived on Friday, March 29th, following the decision of potential buyer, Swedish wood and paper group Lessebo, to pull out of the sale.

Ouest France reported on reactions to the news, with Christelle Morançais, president of the Pays de la Loire Regional Council, calling the decision a “tragedy for the hundreds of employees who believed in their business.”

The news outlet also reported that despite raising €15m of public money, management and employees had to find another €15m in three days, which was not achievable.

Bessé-sur-Braye, which produced the Cocoon and Cyclus ranges of paper, is the largest of the three sites and employed 568 staff – amounting to a quarter of the population of the Bessé-sur-Braye region losing their jobs.

Greenfield in Château-Thierry has been recovered with German tissue products manufacturer Wepa taking over the deinked pulp mill, saving around 75 jobs.

There have been liquidations that [have] affected so many employees, but in the same department and the same geographical area – it is really unprecedented

Le Bourray in Saint-Mars-la-Briere, which employs 270 people and produces the Eural and Office ranges, has been partially saved by French napkin producer CGMP, but has still seen the dismissal of more than 150 employees according to French economy news outlet Challenges.

Speaking to Challenges, lawyer for Arjowiggins, Thomas Hollande, comments: “There are 800 employees directly affected, not counting indirect jobs. There have been liquidations that [have] affected so many employees, but in the same department and the same geographical area – it is really unprecedented.”

The three sites, which were owned by Sequana, were placed into administration on January 8th. A knock-on effect of the decision in France was felt in the UK, as UK agency Performance Papers was also forced to cease operations, as the company was a wholly owned subsidiary to Arjowiggins Papier Couche – the French company associated with the Bessé site. This resulted in the loss of 10 jobs at the site in Basingstoke.

The proposed sale of Arjowiggins Fine Papers to a preferred bidder continues to proceed and a further update will be provided in due course

FRP Advisory was appointed as joint administrators for the UK sites and has been working with a preferred bidder for those sites, which are part of the Creative Papers division.

Speaking to Print Week, a spokesperson for the joint administrators comments: “Unfortunately, following the order of the French Court on Friday 29 March for the liquidation of Arjowiggins Group subsidiary Papier Couches, Performance Papers has been forced to cease operations, resulting in all 10 members of staff based in Basingstoke being made redundant with immediate effect.

“The joint administrators are now supporting the affected employees in making claims against the Redundancy Payments Service. This decision does not affect the 28 employees based in Basingstoke employed by Arjowiggins Fine Papers who continue to provide services to the Stoneywood Mill in Aberdeen.

"The proposed sale of Arjowiggins Fine Papers to a preferred bidder continues to proceed and a further update will be provided in due course.”

If you have a news story, email summer@linkpublishing.co.uk or follow us on Twitter to have your say.


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