A BOLTON tissue factory employing 300 workers is facing a brighter future after a buyer stepped in.
The Georgia-Pacific factory in Middlebrook was put up for sale in July after being bought by Swedish firm SCA Hygiene Products.
SCA was ordered by the European Union (EU) to sell some of its new sites under competition regulations, meaning the Middlebrook factory and a second in Bridgend, south Wales, were put up for sale.
Following a six-month process, managers have announced that a buyer has now been found to take over the factory.
SCA spokesman Sarah Wilson said: “We have found a buyer for the site and signed a sale agreement for the manufacturing of branded products and retail parts of business, which is fantastic.The trade unions have been told about these developments and we think they will see it as a positive move too.
“Everything is subject to EU ratification and we’ll be looking at the details involved in moving employees from one buyer to another.
“We are not in a position yet to be able to give out more information as this announcement has only just been made.
“It is all subject to a legal process. However we think it’s a good sign that a buyer wants to take the site.”
Cllr Cliff Morris, leader of Bolton Council, said: “We have been working with Georgia Pacific to ensure that as many jobs as possible are retained for Bolton residents.
“We look forward to the conclusion of the process.”
Keith Davies, the council’s director of development and regeneration, has held talks with the firm over recent weeks to understand the position and EU process, and to offer whatever support the council can provide.
The Unite trade union, which represents many of the staff, said many workers had long service at the factory, some of them up to 20 years, and they had been shocked when the sale process was first announced in the summer.
Before the summer deal, Georgia-Pacific had 15 production sites in seven European countries which employed about 5,000 staff.
SCA said those newly-acquired operations generated sales of €1.25 billion in 2011.
SCA is the world’s third-largest supplier of paper and forestry-based products.
It has bought Georgia-Pacific’s European tissue business for €1.3 billion.
The Georgia-Pacific site at Ramsbottom was not affected by the sale.