FiberMark plans one-week shutdown, blames China’s anti-corruption laws

FiberMark is closing for a week because orders for packaging for luxury items have dropped. Christina Scanlon / NNY Business

FiberMark is closing for a week because orders for packaging for luxury items have dropped. Christina Scanlon / NNY Business

Anti-corruption laws in China are having an effect on one Lowville business, as orders for luxury item packaging are substantially down.

The facility-wide shutdown next week at the Lowville FiberMark plant will leave 104 employees without work.

“The Chinese government’s new prime minister passed a law last year,” said Anthony P.D. MacLaurin, FiberMark chief executive officer. “It’s an anti-corruption law to stop gift-giving to government and business officials.”

Across the globe, according to Mr. MacLaurin, sales of liquor, watches and jewelry have been affected.

A large portion of FiberMark’s sales are for packaging for such items.

In addition, Mr. MacLaurin said, the Lowville facility has lost a portion of orders from one of its major customers to a competitor, further affecting sales.

To counter the losses, the company is hoping to continue growth of European sales, as well as luxury item packaging in the U.S.

Plans to launch a number of new products also are in the works.

They will, however, “take time to build and get traction,” Mr. MacLaurin said.

Employees will miss four days next week, as Monday is Memorial Day. They will return to work June 2, to normal 24-hour-a-day operations with three daily shifts.

In 2011, FiberMark reportedly sold $10 million worth of covering materials made in the Lowville plant to the Asian market. At that time, 99 percent of those materials were used to package Chinese-made items, such as watches and jewelry, that ultimately were sold in the United States and Europe.

The company, which is based in Brattleboro, Vt., also operates a paper mill on Bridge Street in Brownville. That facility supplies paper to the Lowville mill and FiberMark plants in Quakertown and Reading, Pa., and in the United Kingdom.

The shutdown will only affect the Lowville plant.

By Christina Scanlon, Times Staff Writer