The boss of one of Fife’s largest employers has called the Brexit trade deal a “triumph” and said it will secure Kingdom jobs.
Smith Anderson chief executive Michael Longstaffe welcomed the agreement, which was announced on Christmas Eve.
The Kirkcaldy-based firm is Europe’s largest supplier of paper bags, producing more than 60 million a week. It has a workforce of around 250 staff.
Mr Longstaffe said it would allow his company to continue its expansion into Europe.
He said: “This final Brexit resolution is extremely late but is a triumph for formal negotiation and brinkmanship diplomacy.
“Although it may not be a popular view, we should be extremely thankful for what is a more robust leadership style.
“This result will secure more jobs within Smith Anderson in Kirkcaldy and allow us to continue to expand our developing footprint into wider Europe.
“Smith Anderson is superbly placed to optimise its position as the UK’s market leader in integrated paper bag supply to Scotland, UK and wider Europe.”
More than 150 years of history
Based in Kirkcaldy’s Rosslyn Commerce Park, the firm supplies paper bags to food groups, including McDonald’s, Greggs, Burger King and Five Guys.
The company was founded in 1859 with the purchase of the Fettykil Paper Mill in Leslie.
The paper making arm of the group fell into receivership in 2006 with the loss of 160 jobs.
However, the packaging arm prevailed and now produces more than two billion paper bags a year.
Earlier this year the company announced a £3 million capital investment which includes more machinery.
More jobs and investment
Mr Longstaffe said work had continued at the Rosslyn Commerce Park factory throughout Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: “Smith Anderson has successfully utilised a very flexible, willing and essential workforce throughout 2020, to take full advantage of significant additional pharmacy and foodservice demand.
“We have remained socially distanced yet competitive, increased numbers through enhanced training and driven additional recruitment to secure improved capacity.
“After a record investment year in 2019, Smith Anderson has exceeded capital expenditure targets yet again in 2020.
“The company has just ordered an additional two new bag machines to produce carrier bags at a cost of £2m for 2021 arrival.”
European joint venture
Smith Anderson started a joint venture in Poland with Huhtamaki in 2017.
The partnership produces bags for the fast food industry within Central Europe.
The company’s last available accounts showed annual sales of £31.3m for the year to September 30 2018. That year the manufacturer made a pre-tax profit of £421,000.