Crown Van Gelder declared bankrupt

Jo Francis
Thursday, January 26, 2023

Dutch papermaker Crown Van Gelder has gone bankrupt after running out of cash.

Is there a future for Crown Van Gelder's Letsgo high performance inkjet paper?
Is there a future for Crown Van Gelder's Letsgo high performance inkjet paper?

The firm is best known for its Crown Letsgo high-speed inkjet paper range, but also recently added paper made from sugar beet fibres to its portfolio. 

The District Court of Noord-Holland declared the business bankrupt earlier this week because the “anticipated payment obligation could no longer be met”.

The mill runs two paper machines and employs more than 250 staff. Production capacity is around 180,000tpa. 

Applications for its papers include books and publications, direct mail, transactional print, and packaging. 

Papermaking at its Velsen site dates back to 1896, with the business celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2021. 

In a statement, Crown Van Gelder said the business had achieved a positive operating result last year. However, increased costs – particularly energy and raw materials – had resulted in a liquidity shortfall. 

The business said it had also suffered “a sudden drop in orders resulting in unusually long standstill of production” and was uncertain about future market demand. 

CEO Miklas Dronkers commented on the devastating turn of events, and said: “Innovation has always been at the heart of our paper mill. I am very proud of our employees who were always looking for innovation and opportunities.”

Dronkers said that Crown Van Gelder had “changed the world of paper” with Crown Letsgo and its sugar beet paper Crown Native. 

“It hurts that our beautiful independent paper mill has been confronted with this situation.”

Crown Van Gelder’s board is now working with the appointed bankruptcy trustees on a possible rescue deal, and there are talks with “several interested parties” about the potential continuation of the business.

The firm had also been due to exhibit at the upcoming Hunkeler Innovation Days event, where its paper would typically also be running on some of the high-speed inkjet devices being exhibited. 

The gas price crisis has hit a number of European papermakers hard, and has resulted in numerous price rises, surcharges, and temporary stoppages to production across the continent. It was also a factor in the failure of Arjowiggins here in the UK. 

Last summer, European paper industry federation Cepi warned that possible disruptions in the industry’s gas supply “would affect the entire logistics of the EU, availability of paper packaging for food and pharmaceuticals, as well as essential hygiene products”.

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