July 1999 was the date of the announcement of the eventual closure of Kimberly Clark tissue Mill in Larkfield. A prominent employer for 50 years in the area producing famous consumer products such as Kleenex and Delsey…………
Kimberly-Clark is to close manufacturing facilities at its Larkfield, Kent site in the next sixteen months following a review of its UK tissue operations. The company will combine tissue production at three facilities, one at nearby Northfleet, Kent, one at Flint in North Wales and the other at Barrow, Cumbria where there will be substantial investment in upgrading machinery.
Sean Erwin, president of the Family Care tissue manufacturing businesses for Kimberly-Clark Europe, said: ‘Faced with excess capacity in the UK tissue market, we need to reduce our cost base by operating three tissue mills instead of four. We have invested a great deal in Larkfield over the years and have not taken the decision to close the mill lightly. The decision was made all the more difficult because of the job losses related to the closure.’
The Larkfield site, which began operations in the mid 1950s, manufactures Kleenex facial consumer tissues for distribution to retailers in the UK, retailer brand facial tissue and a small amount of retailer brand bathroom tissue, The manufacture of these products will be progressively transferred to Kimberly-Clark’s mill at Barrow which makes Andrex bathroom tissue, retailer brand products, as well as products for the Away-From-Home business sector. The Northfleet site will continue to concentrate on manufacturing of Andrex bathroom tissue.
Mr Erwin said: ‘Significant investment will be made in advanced technology at the (Barrow) mill, where it will be possible to combine tissue-making and conversion into finished product on one site.’ He continued: ‘This is not a reflection on the Larkfield mill. Our employees are hardworking people who have done an excellent job for us and we will be doing everything we can to help them find other employment.’
A total of 276 direct Kimberly-Clark employees at the Larkfield Site and up to 70 at the Northfleet site will be affected by the mill closure. The Northfleet job losses come from investment in new machinery to improve productivity. Kimberly-Clark will continue to employ around 2200 people in the UK including over 600 in Kent