James Cropper, a global market leader in advanced materials, luxury packaging and paper products, today announces a strategy to accelerate growth across the Group.

Since the appointment of Steve Adams as Chief Executive Officer in August 2022, the Company has made significant progress in repositioning James Cropper to capitalise on growth opportunities within its core and emerging end-markets. The fast-growing renewable energy and decarbonisation markets are creating an ever-greater need for novel and high-performance materials, while sustainable fibres, and low, or zero, carbon processing are driving growth within paper and packaging.

In order to position the company to accelerate growth, the Group is today announcing three strategic changes:

1. Brand profile: reorganisation and renaming.
2. A step change of investment in innovation and systems.
3. Streamlining the Paper division to improve productivity and margins.

Brand profile: reorganisation and renaming

The Group will invest in the James Cropper brand by reorganising itself from three separate divisions (James Cropper Paper, Technical Fibre Products and Colourform) into four market-facing segments, unified under the Group name:

  • James Cropper Creative Papers
    The Group’s historic business supplying specialist paper markets with a world leading range of coloured and embossed papers, and unique sustainable fibre options including CupCycling.
  • James Cropper Luxury Packaging
    Incorporating James Cropper’s multi-award winning Colourform moulded pulp innovation and the packaging papers made for the world’s leading luxury brands.
  • James Cropper Technical Fibres
    Core technical fibre markets including aerospace, defence, construction and industrial.
  • James Cropper Future Energy
    Incorporating TFP Hydrogen, and including materials and products for fuel cells, carbon capture, batteries and wind.

The above segments will be managed under two Managing Directors covering paper products and advanced materials respectively.

The new brand strategy positions the Company across an exciting spectrum from heritage to cutting edge and leverages the brand value of the James Cropper name across all markets and geographies.

This will also generate a more focused operation and streamlined cost base with greater collaboration and sharing of functions across the Group.

The reorganisation and renaming will be delivered within the remainder of this calendar year.

Investment in innovation and systems

The strategy will realise greater synergies across the Group, supported by a multi-million pound investment in the next three years that will simplify processes and systems and combine Group functions. In turn this will enable smarter access to data and inform leaner working practices allowing the Group to operate more efficiently.

To drive future growth through innovation, the Board has made a senior level appointment with the move of Patrick Willink to the new position of Chief Innovation Officer, starting immediately. Patrick will lead a Centre for Innovation at James Cropper, bringing a wealth of experience to this role, as former Paper Operations Director, Group Chief Technology Officer, and most recently Managing Director of Colourform, the Group’s award-winning luxury packaging division.

The Innovation team will be scaled up to play a critical part in ensuring James Cropper will meet the anticipated demands of future markets and customers, whether technical, environmental or economic, to drive costs down and volumes up. Activities will include: delivering ambitious plans to decarbonise the Group’s operations; making ever greater use of recovered fibres; and helping to create technology roadmaps in emerging markets such as green hydrogen, fuel cells and carbon capture.

Streamlining the Paper division

Another key element of the Group’s strategy will be significant changes to the Paper division. In order to create a more resilient and higher margin business that is less exposed to the multiple headwinds it has faced for many years, the Group is proposing to reduce the number of paper machines in operation from four to three, with two machines anticipated to be in production at any one time.

Together with the reorganisation and streamlining of Group functions and related investment (as outlined above), this will lead to a change in overall headcount, and accordingly the Company has today submitted an advance notification of redundancies, with a 90-day consultation period commencing with immediate effect. Overall, approximately 10% of employees will potentially be affected, predominantly within the Paper and Group functions.

James Cropper Chief Executive Officer, Steve Adams said: “We’re a purpose-driven business built on strong values and announcing potential job loses is not a decision taken lightly. We will work collaboratively with our employees, unions, and representatives throughout this process. Change is difficult yet it is essential to ensure the sustainability and growth of James Cropper.

“Our strategic realignment will drive margin improvements by bringing greater focus on our customers and allow us to take better advantage of our size and remain agile and dynamic in our markets. Combined with our wealth of manufacturing knowledge, sustainability alternatives and pioneering abilities we will strengthen our position across multiple sectors as the preferred global partner of choice.”

Commenting on the Strategy Update, James Cropper Chairman, Mark Cropper added: “The next few years should see breakout growth in many areas as we truly live our purpose and help the world shift to a low carbon economy in better balance with nature. Nevertheless, we have become increasingly aware that this will not be achieved without more robust and efficient systems, greater collaboration across our different businesses, and a resizing of our Paper business to make it more consistently profitable and sustainable.”