Kendal paper firm to cut jobs, rebrand and delay results

James Cropper paper mill in Kendal

Kendal-based paper and packaging business James Cropper plc has told the stock market this morning that it expects to cut jobs, rebrand the business, invest in new systems, and its results will be delayed because new auditors have been appointed.

The company is proposing to reduce the workforce by 10% and has submitted an advance notice of redundancies today in the Paper and Group functions of the business. 

The company expects to spend £2.1m on letting the staff go. 

Steve Adams, chief executive, said: “We’re a purpose-driven business built on strong values and announcing potential job losses is not a decision taken lightly.  We will work collaboratively with our employees, unions, and representatives throughout this process. Change is difficult yet it is essential to ensure the sustainability and growth of James Cropper.”

In a trading update the AIM listed family run business said its unaudited figures for the current financial year will likely show £130 million in revenue and an adjusted profit before tax of not less than £2.2 million, exceeding market expectations of £2.0 million.

The statement said it has “made significant progress since 2022 in repositioning James Cropper to capitalise on growth opportunities” within its core and emerging end-markets. The company claims the fast-growing renewable energy and decarbonisation markets are “creating an ever-greater need for novel and high-performance materials”. 

The company will invest in the James Cropper brand by reorganising itself from three separate divisions (James Cropper Paper, Technical Fibre Products and Colourform) into four market-facing segments all under the Group name. 

James Cropper Creative Papers, supplying specialist paper , including coloured and embossed papers.

James Cropper Luxury Packaging, including colourform moulded pulp innovation and the packaging papers made for the world’s leading luxury brands. 

James Cropper Technical Fibres, which serves the aerospace, defence, construction and industrial sectors.

James Cropper Future Energy, incorporating TFP Hydrogen, and including materials and products for fuel cells, carbon capture, batteries and wind.

The above segments will be managed under two Managing Directors covering paper products and advanced materials respectively.

The company has also promoted Patrick Willink to the new position of Chief Innovation Officer as part of a drive to investment in innovation and systems with “a multi-million pound investment in the next three years” to simplify processes and systems. The former Paper Operations Director, Group Chief Technology Officer, and most recently Managing Director of Colourform, the Group’s award-winning luxury packaging division starts immediately. 

The Company has recently appointed Grant Thornton as auditors and as this will be the first year audit with the new team, expects that the annual accounts for the year ended 1 April 2023 will be announced later than historically reported. 

Adams also said: “After a year in which the Company has faced unprecedented challenges, I am extremely grateful to the whole team for helping to exceed against our revised expectations. However, moving forward, we must continue to be mindful of future headwinds and drive margin improvement.”

“Our strategic realignment will drive margin improvements by bringing greater focus on our customers and allow us to take better advantage of our size and remain agile and dynamic in our markets.  Combined with our wealth of manufacturing knowledge, sustainability alternatives and pioneering abilities we will strengthen our position across multiple sectors as the preferred global partner of choice.”

Commenting on the strategy update, James Cropper chairman, Mark Cropper added: “The next few years should see breakout growth in many areas as we truly live our purpose and help the world shift to a low carbon economy in better balance with nature.  Nevertheless, we have become increasingly aware that this will not be achieved without more robust and efficient systems, greater collaboration across our different businesses, and a resizing of our paper business to make it more consistently profitable and sustainable.”