The persistent global economic downturn is proving to be much tougher than anticipated with depressed markets, geopolitical instability and weak economic growth combining to put significant pressure on Sappi, particularly in Europe.
In response we announced on 06 July 2023 the start of a consultation process on the possible closure of Stockstadt Mill. We have completed this process and agreed on the social plan for the employees. In addition, an agreement has been signed for the sale of the site. The closure of the site should be completed during the first calendar quarter of 2024. Once all closure elements are taken into account, the impact is expected to be cash neutral.
We continue to be faced with significant overcapacity in graphic paper forcing us to take extended periods of costly commercial downtime. As the recent over-stocking by customers reduces it has become very clear that demand will not return to previous levels. Combined with input cost pressure, we do not see this situation, caused by factors beyond our control improving in the foreseeable future.
Steve Binnie, CEO of Sappi Limited commented: “Sappi continues to position itself for growth and increased profitability in line with our group Thrive25 strategic focus. This includes reducing exposure to the graphic paper segment while expanding Sappi’s presence in packaging, speciality papers, pulp and biomaterials. Recent investments across our South African, American and European operating businesses demonstrate this priority. We will therefore continue to review the viability of all our operations and make changes when necessary.”
Marco Eikelenboom, CEO of Sappi Europe stated: “These are globally challenging times and Sappi Europe is faced with overcapacity in graphic paper forcing us to take extended periods of costly commercial downtime. As the recent over-stocking by customers reduces it has become very clear that demand will not return to previous levels. Combined with input cost pressure, we do not see this situation, caused by factors beyond our control improving in the foreseeable future.
“We have therefore decided to inform both the mill management and the Works Council that we are today starting the consultation process on the potential closure of the Lanaken Mill. In parallel we are reviewing how best to reduce overall fixed and other overhead costs.”
Sappi Europe is focused on building a sustainably resilient company. This requires evaluating the future of all facets of the business based on market dynamics and the market segments Sappi believe will be strongest in the future.
While continuing to serve the graphic paper market through its competitive assets, the overall priority of the European business will be to grow the packaging and speciality papers segment specifically within flexible packaging, functional papers, self-adhesives including glassine, labels as well as dye-sublimation categories. Restructuring measures result in a better utilisation of Sappi’s remaining assets to the benefit of customers.
Sappi Lanaken Mill is an integrated pulp and paper mill located in Belgium, currently employing a total 644 workers with a production capacity of 165,000 tpa of pulp which is used to produce 530,000 tpa of coated woodfree paper mainly sold into the European print market.
Sappi Stockstadt Mill is an integrated pulp and paper mill located in Germany, with a production capacity of 145,000 tpa of pulp (for internal use) and 220,000 tpa of coated and uncoated woodfree paper mainly sold into the European print market.
A global leader in dissolving pulp and paper-based solutions, Sappi Limited is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa; has over 12,000 employees; manufacturing facilities on three continents, in ten countries (ten operations in Europe, four operations in North America and five operations in South Africa) and customers in over 150 countries worldwide.
Sappi works closely with customers to provide relevant and sustainable dissolving pulp, paper (speciality, packaging and graphic), paper pulp, and biomaterial products and related services and innovations. Our market-leading range of paper products includes flexible packaging, label, release liner, containerboard, graphic papers, casting release papers and in our Southern African region newsprint, uncoated graphic and business papers. These products serve the fashion, FMCG and industrial sectors. Our dissolving pulp products are used worldwide by converters to produce viscose fibre, pharmaceutical products as well as a wide range of household and consumer products.
Sappi drives product innovation and the development of new uses for its renewable resource (woodfibre) as well as for the biomass and other residues from its production processes. One such area is in the field of biomaterials (cellulose composites, nanocellulose and lignins), biochemicals including hemi-cellulose sugars and bio-energy forest products materials which Sappi believes will play a key role in its future range of products, both as commercial products and for applications within Sappi.
We continue to grow into a profitable and cash-generative diversified business with an exciting future in woodfibre, a renewable resource.
Issued by Brunswick
on behalf of Sappi Limited in South Africa
Tel + 27 (0)11 502 7300
Ruess International GMBH
on behalf of Sappi Europe
Tel +49 711 16446 – 18
For further information
André F Oberholzer
Group Head Corporate Affairs
Tel +27 (0)11 407 8044
Mobile +27 (0)83 235 2973
Group Head Investor Relations and Sustainability
Tel +27 (0)11 407 8391
Mobile +27 (0)83 666 6589
Regional Communication Manager
Tel +32 (0)2 676 9700
Mobile +32 (0)496 39 0889