Smurfit-Stone May Close Plants, Sell Units

by Arkansas Business staff  on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2005 11:45 am  

Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. of Chicago says it might close some of its plants and possibly sell its consumer packaging business as part of a plan to reduce annual costs by $600 million by 2008.

Smurfit-Stone employs about 670 people in Arkansas at five Arkansas plants, including a bag plant in Jacksonville, a sheet plant in Fort Smith, a "packaging solutions center" in Bentonville and corrugator/box plants in Little Rock and Rogers.

The company did not say which plants it might close.

In a statement, the company said it would redefine its strategy to "dramatically improve the company's performance and better position Smurfit-Stone for long-term growth."

"Smurfit-Stone faces critical challenges and opportunities as a result of dramatic shifts in the packaging market," Patrick J. Moore, chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement "We must leverage our size and integrated system to drive a step change decrease in our cost structure to improve our competitive cost position in the marketplace."

Smurfit-Stone said it would spend about $400 million to implement its cost-cutting strategy. It said it expects to close up to 20 percent of its corrugated container facilities and move the business to larger plants. And it said it would separate the manufacturing and sales groups in its container operations.

Smurfit-Stone is among the state's 10 largest forest products companies. The Arkansas Business annual list of largest forest products companies hits newsstands on Monday.



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