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 Sappi announced on 6 July 2023 the start of a consultation process on the possible closure of Stockstadt Mill. Sappi 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.
Sappi continue to be faced with significant overcapacity in graphic paper forcing the company 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, Sappi does 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 specialities 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.