Jobs are at risk at a major South Cumbrian employer, partly driven by the cost of the coronavirus crisis.

James Cropper Plc, in Burneside, near Kendal, is to carry out a restructure which it expects will affect less than 10 per cent of its workforce of around 600.

The company makes luxury papers which are used by brands all over the world.

Its Technical Fibre Products division also makes highly specified materials that are used in a multitude of sectors, including aviation, while its Colourform wing makes moulded paper packaging.

In a statement issued ahead of its annual general meeting, which took place today, chairman Mark Cropper said it "experienced a sharp downturn in activity in the first quarter of this year, resulting in a trading loss".

He said: "Group sales for the first quarter are down on the prior year quarter but in line with expectations.

"Both TFP and Colourform are showing growth in sales with the paper division being hit the hardest by the impact of the pandemic."

He added: "Overall, the outlook for the group remains in line with management expectations.

"TFP is not expected to be impacted significantly by the pandemic, with year-on-year growth expected in a number of sectors, including fuel cell and wind, helping to offset the decline in aerospace demand.

"Colourform still expects sales to grow year-on-year, while paper will be focusing on structural reorganisation to support accelerated growth and increased competitiveness.

"I am satisfied that the changes we are making are necessary for the group's long-term success."

Chief executive Phil Wild said: “For 175 years James Cropper has remained a successful business; mainly because we have learned to evolve and react to external challenges.

"Today, we find ourselves in a pivotal moment, where again we must adapt.

“Like every business we are always looking at ways to ensure we are fit for the future.

"We began exploring options to re-shape and realign our organisation for accelerated growth, reduced complexity and improved productivity some months ago, however, the impact of coronavirus has accelerated that process.

“As a result, we have taken the decision to enter consultation on some roles; a decision which has not been taken lightly.

"As one of the oldest, largest and therefore most important employers in the area, our priority is to minimise job losses, working in collaboration with employees and the trade unions.”