Management buyout saves Aberdeen paper mill


The management team of paper manufacturer Arjowiggins Creative Papers has announced the successful management buyout of its UK operations, protecting hundreds of jobs in Scotland and safeguarding Aberdeen’s historic Stoneywood paper mill. 

The company has been trading in administration since January 2019 following insolvency proceedings against French parent companies Arjowiggins and Sequana. The business will now be led by an eight-strong experienced leadership team headed up by current managing director Jonathan Mitchell and including Stoneywood mill general manager, Angus MacSween.

The management buyout covers Arjowiggins Fine Papers, which runs the group’s Stoneywood mill. Originally opened in 1770, Stoneywood is Aberdeen’s last paper mill, and one of few remaining in the North East, with around 450 employees.

The deal also includes the business’ Basingstoke office and Arjowiggins Chartham, which operates the Chartham mill in Canterbury. Following the MBO, the new company will have 559 employees.

The change in ownership marks an exciting new chapter in the history of the 250 year-old business, which pioneered the production of fine paper in the 1800s and now manufactures products for designers, printers and clients worldwide under well-known brands such as Conqueror, Curious Collection and Keaykolour.

Jonathan Mitchell comments: “We are absolutely delighted to have secured the future of a strong and sustainable business which has such a long heritage in Scotland. Arjowiggins Creative Papers has world-renowned market-leading brands and products and a passionate and talented team.  We are looking forward to taking steps to further strengthen the business and continue to provide first class products and customer service to our clients.

“The last nine months has been an unsettling time for the company and we are extremely grateful to the joint administrators, FRP Advisory, for having allowed the business to continue to trade while we found a workable solution. The support we have had from our staff, customers, suppliers and the Scottish Government has been incredible and without them this deal would not have been possible. There has been a real combined will to keep this historic business alive.”

The deal has been financed by Shawbrook Bank and SQN Asset Finance Income Fund as well as a number of strategic customers. Significant financial backing has also been received from national economic development agency Scottish Enterprise.

In January, a Common Purpose Group was established by Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, with a focus on securing a long-term future for the Stoneywood mill. This was led by Scottish Enterprise and included representatives of the company’s management, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils, Opportunity North East, Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce and Unite.

Mr Hepburn said:  “I am delighted that the future of this historic mill has now been secured through a management buyout. This is great news for the employees and their families, and indeed welcomed across Aberdeen, the Northeast and further afield. 

“The Scottish Government, through Scottish Enterprise, has been working intensively with the administrator, management team, UNITE and local partners throughout this entire process to secure this positive outcome.

“The priority now is to work closely with the new owners to realise their plans for the long-term success of the business, and identify future opportunities in the sector, which ultimately benefits the local economy and wider North East economy.”

The completion of the MBO in the UK, supported by Ledingham Chalmers and Anderson Anderson Brown, is the first in a two stage process and the management team are also in advanced discussions with French administrators on the acquisition of the company’s non-UK operations which include Spanish mill Guarro Casas and Quzhou mill in China.

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