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Kemsley Paper Mill owner DS Smith boosts revenues and operating profits as more consumers buy products online

By Chris Price

The owner of a paper mill in the county has boosted turnover and operating profits as online shopping boosts demand for packaging.

DS Smith increased revenues by 19% to £2.8 billion in the first half of its financial year.

The company, which makes corrugated packaging and is based in 37 countries, has enjoyed growth in demand as consumers increasingly buy products online, requiring boxes for postage.

An aerial view of Kemsley Paper Mill
An aerial view of Kemsley Paper Mill

It also boosted adjusted operating profits by 11% to £251 million, helped by an expected recovery in the price of paper.

However, pre-tax profits slipped 1% to £144 million and would have been down 5% if currency values had remained constant.

The business owns the Kemsley Paper Mill near Sittingbourne, which is among nine it operates across Europe. It is its only mill in Britain.

Its UK revenues jumped 18% to £550 million in the six months to the end of October.

Domestic adjusted operating profit increased 22% to £55 million, with corrugated box volumes “good”.

The company, which employs about 27,000 people overall, said its UK operations had “developed a leading position in e-commerce which is being replicated in other European regions”.

Giant rolls of paper from DS Smith's Kemsley Paper Mill are also sent to neighbouring Knauf, which makes plaster-board
Giant rolls of paper from DS Smith's Kemsley Paper Mill are also sent to neighbouring Knauf, which makes plaster-board

Chief executive Miles Roberts said: “Structural shifts, including changes in consumer preferences, the increased relevance of our packaging at point-of-sale, and the rise in e-commerce are all underpinning the growth of packaging.

“The strong customer demand has driven performance and our operating margin is in line with our expectations, despite the substantial input cost pressures in the period, which we continue to recover as planned.”

Kemsley Mill was originally built by Edward Lloyd in 1924 to produce newsprint. At that time, its four paper machines were the largest in the world.

DS Smith acquired part of the business from St Regis in 1986 and then took control of the entire site in 2008.

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