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Smurfit Kappa machine revamp programme accelerated

Smurfit Kappa Paper UK is bringing forward the closure of two container board machines with a combined capacity of 250,000 tonnes at its Townsend Hook mill in Kent.

The company has announced the move will now happen on 1 July after the completion of a consultation process with all employees, instead of 2014 as originally planned.

A statement said: “We are bringing forward the closure in order to extend the training period for our workforce, advance the start-up of the new paper machine and increase the pace of the expected ramp up.

“The facility will be rebuilt (using a machine acquired from the Cadidavid liquidator in 2011) into one 250,000 tonne modern lightweight machine which will now be operational by Q4 2014 rather than Q1 2015.

The company says this is an investment of approximately £100m (€114 million), combined with a £34m investment in its 420,000 tonne Hoya mill, which is being completed this month: “Together, the investments will further increase productivity and significantly lower costs in our UK business”, the statement added.

In March 2012, Smurfit Kappa announced: “The installation and commissioning of a custom designed, five-metre, lightweight recycled container board machine … will secure the supply of paper for all of Smurfit Kappa’s packaging operations in the UK and Ireland.

“The new machine will produce lightweight corrugated papers, for use in Smurfit Kappa integrated plants meeting market requirements for high efficiency and sustainable, recycled paper-making.The cost associated with the project will be phased over three years. The outlay represents one of the largest investments by an established UK paper manufacturer and is a significant sign of Smurfit Kappa’s commitment to its customers”.

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