Falkland is preparing for the end of an era after it was announced the village’s Smith Anderson packaging factory is moving to Kirkcaldy.
The firm’s 200-strong workforce — all of whom will keep their jobs — were given the news on Wednesday afternoon.
Rumours had been rife for some time that the company would have to relocate if it wanted to expand.
The move to the Mitchelston Industrial Estate will bring to an end a 40-year association between Smith Anderson and the historic village of Falkland.
Michael Longstaffe, chief executive of Smith Anderson, said the reaction from staff had been ‘extremely positive’.
He told the Fife Herald: “This is a very bold step to take during such challenging times, but we are extremely confident that this was an opportunity not to be missed.
“An energetic and loyal workforce is our greatest asset and they will function far more efficiently within a single storey production hall with brand new facilities.”
Mr Longstaffe said 25 per cent of the workforce hail from north east Fife, with the rest coming from the Leslie, Glenrothes and Kirkcaldy areas.
Describing the current Well Brae site as ‘far from ideal’, Mr Longstaffe explained that the move would take about a year to complete.
He added: “We have the ability to operate fully from both sites during the transition, which was key to the success of the initial project plan.”
Howe of Fife councillor David MacDiarmid said Falkland would be ‘changed forever’.
He told the Fife Herald: “My main concern obviously has to be for the loyal local workforce.
“The move will not suit everybody but Smith Anderson must be commended for looking to the future in these cash strapped times in an extremely competitive marketplace.”
Wishing the firm and its employees ‘the very best for the future’, Councillor MacDiarmid added: “It will be sad to see Smith Anderson leave the village, not just as the largest employer but historically this site has employed thousands of workers for well over a century in differing industries.
“Falkland will be changed forever by the closure of ‘the factory’, and I fear we may become a sort of commuting village as we won’t have another employer to fill the void.”
Smith Anderson produces 50 million paper bags a week.
For the last four years the firm has been awarded a contract for McDonalds, manufacturing over 30 million branded recycled paper bags for the burger chain.
The company was founded in 1859 at Fettykil Mills, Leslie, and has operated from its Falkland site since the late 1960s.
The chairman of Falkland Community Council, Anthony Garrett, said the announcement of the move was ‘not completely unexpected’.
He added: “I do not know what arrangements have been made for the workforce but trust that they have been consulted and the best possible solution has been found to ensure their continuing employment.
“It is likely to lead to a major change in the face of Falkland, particularly if the local plan allows much needed houses to be built on the site for local people.”