MORE than 100 jobs at a North-East packaging factory are secure, it has been announced, after the plant was bought by one of the UK’s largest corrugated cardboard companies.

Cepac, which makes corrugated packaging as well as packaging for the retail industry, has confirmed it has completed the acquisition of DS Smith’s Darlington factory, formerly known as SCA Branded Packaging, as well as buying point of sale display manufacturer, Screenprint Doncaster Limited.

The firm says the Darlington deal, which had been pending approval from the European Commission, will safeguard 130 jobs.

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The packaging plant has been in Darlington for decades and was originally known as Hugh Stevenson (North-East) Ltd, before the company merged with the Bowater Paper Group in 1966, with the firm at its peak occupying a 14-acre site on the Faverdale Industrial Estate, employing 450 people.

In 1989, Bowater was acquired by Swedish-owned multi-national paper firm SCA, which makes hygiene products including Tena and Bodyform as well as toilet tissue Cushelle and kitchen towels Plenty, before the packaging part of the business was acquired by DS Smith last year.

Under competition rules, DS Smith was required to sell some of the former SCA sites, including the Darlington factory.

Cepac, which is part of HSA Group, has also reached another agreement with DS Smith to acquire its specialty packaging plant in Rawcliffe Bridge, East Yorkshire, in an acquisition due to complete during the first quarter of this year.

Cepac believes its three new acquisitions will complement its existing plant in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, and will allow the company to expand its operations to meet increasing demand across a range of sectors.

Founded in 1999 in Rotherham, Cepac designs tailormade solutions for retail clients using cutting-edge design technology.

Rod Ainslie, managing director at Cepac, said: “Having built up Cepac over 13 years, we have established a strong position in the industry, serving a solid base of FMCG (fastmoving consumer goods) customers.

As we welcome new colleagues and customers, our priority for the immediate future is involvement, communication and clear direction.

“The addition of the former DS Smith operations in conjunction with Screenprint Doncaster will enable us to operate an independent multiplant network within the UK, satisfying customer demand with a wide and complementary range of market-leading products and enabling us to expand our customer base.”