Innovia has finalised the sale of its UK and US Cellophane and Natureflex food packaging business as it focuses on polymer production for the UK’s new banknotes.
The global group’s Cumbria-based manufacturing operation has been sold, for an undisclosed sum, along with its site in Kansas, to Futamura, a Japanese manufacturer of plastic and cellulose films, predominantly for food packaging.
In total around 400 employees at Innovia Films will transfer to Futamura under the terms of the deal, with around 266 of those based on the same site as Innovia's polymer bank note manufacturing operation in Wigton, Cumbria.
Former commercial director of Innovia Films, Keith Fell, has come out of retirement to head Futamura’s new Cellophane acquisition as general manager of European operations.
He said: “I am delighted to take on this role for Futamura who are passionate about investing in the long term future of the global cellulose business. The acquisition is the perfect marriage; we bring with us a wealth of expertise and knowledge of sustainable, compostable films and our cellulose production facilities complement Futamura’s strong manufacturing capabilities.”
Innovia Group, which was acquired in 2014 by private equity group Arle capital, called the sale a strategic step towards further focus on its growth market polymer film and banknotes.
In 2014 the company announced £40m worth of investment at its Wigton site, including £20m for a new facility for Innovia Security specifically for converting Innovia Film’s polymer into its trademarked Guardian banknote substrate for the new £5, £10 and £20 notes. Production of the notes has already been underway since last autumn, with the new dedicated facility provisionally set for an official opening on 9 September.
The remaining £20m was invested in the development of a gas turbine and a new 'bubble' which will increase its Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP) output by 10%.