Latest blow to city as historical firm closes

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A 200-year-old business has left York this week in the latest setback to the city’s long industrial heritage.

The old label printing division of Sessions closed its doors for good on Wednesday as the final piece of machinery was moved out of the Huntington Street premises, where it has been based since 1920.

The company went into administration in April 2010, which led to its three divisions being split, and its label printing division was bought out by Paragon Print & Packaging Group.

Paragon continue to operate Sessions at York with about 40 staff, but the property was sold to be re-developed. Despite attempts to find a suitable alternative location in the area, the company announced it was moving the division to a new 42,000 sq ft plant in Boston, Lincolnshire.

The sales and marketing director for the Boston operation, Rick Smith, said: “The Sessions of York name has now gone. We did try everything humanly possible to keep that operation in York. It is a York heritage and it’s something we fought hard to keep but it wasn’t to be. We have got a new challenge ahead which is the relocation, which has now been completed, and to build the business back up. We have 13 members of staff from York who are currently working at the Boston factory so we have retained as many people as we could. We have been operational out of that site for about a month now and the York site is now completely closed.”

Founded in 1811, Sessions established itself printing grocery labels during the First World War and employed 200 people at the height of its success. Its machinery division still trades in the city as Sessions Label Machines after it was sold to a York-born manufacturing entrepreneur and its commercial printing division was merged with Barringtons of York.

York’s traditional manufacturing base has been hit hard in recent years. Terry’s and British Sugar both closed their operations in the city, while Nestle shed 645 jobs in 2006.