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DS Smith packaging plant at Aylesford to close with loss of 100 jobs

Staff at a packaging manufacturing plant are facing a bleak new year after plans were announced to close the factory.

The DS Smith site at Quarry Wood Industrial Park in Upper Mills Road, Aylesford, employs around 100 people.

DS Smith is quitting Aylesford. Picture: Google
DS Smith is quitting Aylesford. Picture: Google

DS Smith, the UK's largest packaging company, plans to transfer the Aylesford operations to its factory in Ely in Cambridgeshire as part of a rationalisation programme.

Far from being in trouble, the company is forging ahead, with its half-year results announced two weeks ago showing revenue up by 28% to £4,299m and profit up by 80% to £315m.

The company recently awarded its staff an 8% pay rise.

The firm has 27 other packaging plants across the country, plus a large paper mill at Kemsley, near Sittingbourne, all of which are unaffected by the closure.

But Miles Roberts, the firm's chief executive, said it was looking to Europe for future growth. It has recently opened new factories in Italy and Poland.

Some 100 jobs are at risk. Picture: Google
Some 100 jobs are at risk. Picture: Google

He described the job losses at Aylesford as “very regrettable."

Some staff will be offered the opportunity to relocate to Ely.

A spokesman for the company said: "DS Smith is constantly evaluating opportunities to ensure its operations remain efficient.

"As part of this process, we have undertaken a strategic review and taken the decision to close our site in Aylesford whereby all activity will be transferred to Ely.

"This will enable us to increase capacity, invest in the latest technology, drive agility and meet our ambitious sustainability targets."

David McMullen of the GMB union
David McMullen of the GMB union

He said: "The transfer of operations will be a phased programme between February and April 2023. We are supporting colleagues with this transition and expect no impact to the ongoing delivery of services during this time."

David McMullen, the regional organiser for the GMB union, said: "It is disappointing that the company has chosen to close the factory with the result of so many job losses especially at this time of year.

"It has become apparent of late that DS Smith will put their profits above everything and appear to have no interest in any loyalty to their staff.

"Sadly this is becoming all too common in modern times.

"We would urge DS Smith to reconsider moving operations overseas and to stay loyal to the UK and their workers who have stayed loyal to them for many years.

"We are concerned this will be the start of other factories being moved also and this should be a massive concern to others in Kent."

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