Trouble at paper mills puts UK titles at risk

By Maxine Clayman

The magazine industry may be forced to impose harsh restrictions on
newsprint use because of a strike by paper mill workers in Finland.

With Finnish paper mill lock-outs in their sixth week over
negotiations for new working conditions, there is concern about the
supplies to the UK, with only an estimated four to six weeks stock
remaining.

As supplies diminish publishers and merchants are
seeking alternative sources to the Finns, who, at around 32 per cent,
are the main supplier of the paper used in the magazine industry.

Warnings
have already been issued with regards to supplements being planned for
the next few weeks and there could be a heavy reduction on pagination
for glossy titles. Andy Scott, paper editor for PrintWeek, believes
there could be further knock-on effects.

“Not only could
supplements fall by the wayside for the time being, we may see some
customer magazines – titles that are less frequent, fold
completely,” he said.

“Because the strike has been extended
we can write off the first two weeks in August. We won’t get any paper
coming in until then. If it carries on into early July it will be very
serious and we really will be panicking.”

According to Scott it
could also cause problems for the Finns in the long-term. “People are
looking to Italy, Germany, Sweden and North America, wherever possible,
to meet customer needs. If you get a printer happy with a comparable
grade and the quality of the magazine produced afterwards they could
lose business,” he continued.

“In Finland being a paper worker is
quite a prestigious job. There’s a lot of resentment against them in
Finland for turning the latest offer down.”

He said major paper suppliers like UPM, Stora Enso and NJ have already announced plans for increasing investment in China.

The type of paper affected by the strike is mainly used by magazines – newspapers are not expected to be as badly hit.

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