Weidmann Whiteley

Paul Barnes, machine assistant; Bill Wallace, operations director; John Briggs, managing director and Emma Brown, operations manager

Paper manufacturer steams ahead

A paper mill based in Pool-in-Wharfedale has won a £2.5m contract to supply the North American market.

The announcement by Weidmann Whiteley follows a £275,000 investment to upgrade the machinery used to manufacture high quality industrial papers and board.

The investment, supported by Leeds City Council and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Service, has already led to the creation of four new jobs and the recruitment of an engineering apprentice through Leeds City College.

Part of the Swiss-owned Wicor group, Weidmann Whiteley is one of a handful of paper mills in the UK equipped to produce specialised paper board used as insulation in high power electrical transformers and in other industrial applications.

Managing director John Briggs said: “The North America contract is great news for the business and we’re on target for £18m turnover this year. Longer term we’re aiming to develop sales in the high value and higher margin abrasives market, particularly in Germany, where there is strong demand from automotive manufacturers.”

Weidmann Whiteley’s workforce has now grown to 121 and operations director Bill Wallace, who is a member of the national skills council for the industry, says they now plan to recruit a new paper-making apprenticeship: “The apprenticeship will provide an opportunity to study to NVQ Level 4, with potential for career progression through to management level.

“We’ve got buy-in from a wide range of industry partners and part of the apprenticeship will involve working at paper mills around the UK to give apprentices a fully-rounded experience of the paper-making industry. It will be a tremendous opportunity for bright young people to build a rewarding career.”

A grant of £27,500 was awarded through the LEP’s Business Growth Programme to support the investment and help accelerate creation of new jobs.

“The support we’ve received from Leeds City Council and the LEP has been tremendous. We are a major employer in the local area and the grant support has enabled us to move ahead at pace with the project to create new opportunities for the business and new jobs for people in the area.”

Roger Marsh OBE, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “It is great to see businesses benefitting from the wealth of support available through the LEP Growth Service.

“Supporting growing companies is at the heart of the LEP’s ambitions for a thriving Leeds City Region and we have a comprehensive package of support available to help achieve their growth potential.”