UPM Paper announced it will be jettisoning 150 workers in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The global paper maker blames the layoffs on dwindling demand for graphics paper. Helsinki, Finland-based UPM Paper said the terminations will start immediately and be completed by the first quarter of 2018. The company is also laying off more than 200 people at its operations in Germany.
In a press release, UPM said it will permanently close paper machine number #5 at the UPM Blandin plant due to “overcapacities in the North American paper market.”
This will reduce the annual capacity of coated magazine paper by about 128,000 tons. Paper machine #6 at Blandin will continue operating; the mill currently employs about 400 people.
The company said it will recognize restructuring charges of approximately $41.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. The job losses and plant shutdown will result in annual savings of approximately $35.3 million.
“During the last years the demand for graphic papers has been declining – and the decline is expected to continue. Our employees have always given their best, even under challenging market conditions, and we regret the impact of the planned measures on our personnel in Dörpen and Blandin,” said Winfried Schaue, executive vice president of UPM Paper. “However, we have to adjust our operations to prospective customer demand and continuously improve our operations to safeguard the success of UPM Paper ENA in the long run.”
UPM Paper is one of the world’s top producers of graphic paper, in addition to offering a wide range of other products, including magazine, newsprint, and fine papers. It operates 15 paper mills around the world, generating annual revenue of $5.66 billion. UPM owns and manages 187,876 acres of forest land, making it one of the largest private owners in Minnesota.
Despite the termination of American jobs and streamlining efforts, UPM reported solid third-quarter results. Adjusted third-quarter operating profit jumped 12% year-over-year to 351.0-million euros, or approximately US$413.0 million. Analysts were expecting UPM to report earnings of 321.0-million euros, or US$377.0 million.
“The third quarter was another excellent quarter for UPM. The markets were favorable and we achieved good growth in delivery volumes,” said Jussi Pesonen, the company’s president, and CEO. “We also succeeded in mitigating input cost inflation with sales price increases and cost efficiency measures. Our operational efficiency was strong in a quarter with no significant maintenance activity.”
“UPM Paper ENA plans to reduce graphic paper capacity and optimize operations to increase competitiveness,” UPM Paper, October 24, 2017.
“Excellent quarter, further steps in transformation,” UPM Paper, October 24, 2017.