Archie Hunter to step down from Macfarlane after eight years

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ARCHIE Hunter announced his retirement as chairman of Macfarlane Group yesterday, as the packaging company announced a solid set of results for last year.

The 68-year-old veteran of the Scottish business circuit will step down following Macfarlane’s annual meeting in May, after eight years in the chair.

He said: “The Macfarlane Group board of directors has remained substantially unchanged for a number of years and a great deal has been achieved. There is yet more to be done and I believe now is the time for a new chairman to take the company to its next stage of development.”

Hunter was a director of Royal Bank of Scotland from 2004 until 2010, having been one of three board members asked to stay on by chairman Sir Philip Hampton following the bank’s bailout.

News of Hunter’s retirement came as Glasgow-based Macfarlane posted a 16 per cent increase in pre-tax profit before exceptional items to £3.9 million, after successfully raising its prices to pass rising costs on to its customers and growing its display packaging and resealable labels businesses. Turnover was up 7 per cent to £144.6m in 2011.

But the trading results were overshadowed by news that the pension deficit at Macfarlane had grown by £4.8m to £20.5m, despite the company paying in £2.2m last year. It blamed declining bond yields for the situation.

Finance director John Love said the company was considering “a number of steps” this year to try to reduce the deficit. One possibility is a pension increase exchange exercise – a move that has proven popular among firms in recent years and would see pensions become higher but not increase with inflation.

The company is recommending its final dividend be held at 1.05p per share, providing a full year total of 1.55p, also the same as last year. The shares closed down 3p at 19p.

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