In a trading update today (29 July) ahead of its AGM, the Cumbrian-based paper and advanced materials group said that the business had experienced a “sharp downturn in activity” during Q1 of its financial year resulting in a trading loss, although this was in line with management expectations because of the virus crisis.
The group said that its Technical Fibre Products (TFP) and Colourform operations were both showing growth in sales, with its Paper division being "hit the hardest" by the impact of the pandemic.
James Cropper is accelerating restructuring plans that were already under consideration and is to begin consultations with trade unions over proposed job losses.
The group expects that less than 10% of employees will be affected, with precise numbers to be confirmed following the consultation process.
The £105m turnover business has around 600 employees in the UK.
CEO Phil Wild stated: “For 175 years James Cropper has remained a successful business; mainly because we have learned to evolve and react to external challenges. Today, we find ourselves in a pivotal moment, where again we must adapt.
“Like every business we are always looking at ways to ensure we are fit for the future. We began exploring options to re-shape and realign our organisation for accelerated growth, reduced complexity and improved productivity some months ago, however, the impact of Coronavirus has accelerated that process.
He said the decision had not been taken lightly.
“As one of the oldest, largest and therefore most important employers in the area, our priority is to minimise job losses, working in collaboration with employees and the trade unions.”
Earlier this week James Cropper announced that COO Dave Watson was leaving the business, a move that is understood to be connected to the restructure although this has not been officially confirmed.
James Cropper shares fell sharply in early trading, but then recovered and were down 6.34% at £9.60 at the time of writing.