Sappi to End Production of Coated Graphic Paper at Biberist Paper Mill

May 19, 2011 - Sappi Fine Paper Europe announced that it will cease production of coated graphic paper at its Biberist paper mill in Switzerland.

In a written statement Sappi said, "After due and thorough consideration during the consultation process with local employees ending on 16 May 2011 the definitive decision to discontinue the coated graphic paper production was taken. It is anticipated that production will cease by the end of July. The consultation was conducted with good co-operation between all parties involved, complying with the applicable Swiss legal framework."

The Biberist Mill employs around 550 employees in total.

Sappi said that it will continue to investigate possibilities for the sale and alternative industrial use of the site.

"To give potential acquirers interested to convert the mill to alternative products the opportunity to complete a transaction, a decision regarding the future of paper machine No 6 (PM6) and paper machine No 9 (PM9) as well as associated support departments has been postponed.

"However, those employees working on paper machine No 8 (PM8) and associated people in finishing and supporting departments will be served notice of redundancy by the end of May. A social plan will specify redundancy terms, including provisions for outplacement and training support for all affected employees. The social plan will ensure that the affected employees are provided the best possible opportunities to secure new jobs," the company said.

Berry Wiersum, CEO of Sappi Fine Paper Europe, said, "We recognize this is a very difficult and unfortunate outcome for those employees concerned, their families and the communities surrounding the mill. Unfortunately this action was unavoidable and essential given the continued overcapacity and sustained increases in input costs."

Sappi said volumes produced at the mill will be transferred to other Sappi sites. Production of the uncoated Cento brand will continue unless a suitable new owner for the mill is not found by the end of July.

There will be no supply interruption of coated paper to customers during the transfer of production, Sappi added.

With the cessation of coated graphic paper production at Biberist mill, Sappi will reduce its coated graphic paper capacity by 500,000 tons per year.

SOURCE: Sappi Fine Paper Europe