Business Minister Jamie Hepburn has said an Aberdeen papermill is an “attractive prospect” for potential buyers as he pledged to work with all parties to save the 500 jobs at the plant.
Jobs at Arjowiggins’ Stoneywood Mill – one of the last remaining paper mills in the north-east – are hanging in the balance after parent company Sequana went into administration earlier this month.
The French-based company has pledged to work with administrators to find a buyer for the business, while the Scottish Government has created a task force to protect jobs.
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Yesterday, business and skills minister Mr Hepburn visited the mill and saw the formation of a “common purpose group” involving Scottish Enterprise, councils, unions and management to secure its future.
He revealed there were growing hopes a buyer would be found, and said there was a “clear, collective determination” for agencies to work together.
The mill has been in operation since 1770 and has a turnover of £120million.
Mr Hepburn said: “We know the administration process causes clear uncertainty for the workforce, which is understandable.
“But unlike some other situations where a company is in administration, we are dealing with a mill that is profitable and productive. In fact they are ramping up production this week. So actually it is an attractive prospect for a buyer so the message has to remain firmly positive in that regard.”
Mr Hepburn said negotiations involving prospective buyers would be conducted by the administrator and added that it would be inappropriate to give details.
But he said that given profitable nature of the mill he was “sure” there would be interest.
Iain Fraser, partner with administrator FRP Advisor said: “We are actively marketing the business and have had some inquiries, however it is early days. We are liaising regularly with staff, customers and suppliers to ensure the plant is operating as efficiently as possible.”
Tommy Campbell, of Unite, said the union was aware of aware of “genuine positive interest” in the business.
Mr Campbell said: “There was a positive air and we are hopeful that we are travelling in the right direction. In the next few weeks hopefully a purchaser will be confirmed. The mill has been around for 250-years and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be around for another 250.
“We are aware that there is genuine positive interest in the business being bought and keeping it going as a business.”