SESSIONS of York, one of the city’s oldest employers, is up for sale – and a dynasty is about to end.

Mark Sessions, the chairman and managing director of the £6.5 million turnover adhesive label printing firm, has told his 100 staff at the plant in Huntington Road that, as he was approaching 65, he was considering retirement.

As he appreciated that none of his four children wanted involvement in the business, the Sessions connection which began with his great grandfather, William Alexander Sessions, 198 years ago, when the company began as a book shop and stationer’s, was about to end.

Mr Sessions said: “I reminded everyone that I am not Peter Pan. I don’t have children in the company and I am obviously looking for a successor.

“But, whether a sale takes place in six months or six years depends on whether I find the right pair of hands – someone who will keep the company going in the same way that we have run it.”

Mr Sessions stressed that until he had found a successor who would provide continuity, he would not retire.

But when he did, he would continue in his roles as Trustee of the York Against Cancer organisation and as chairman of the York Children’s Trust.

It was not until 1938 that Sessions of York began to make labels.

Its biggest customer, accounting for 40 per cent of sales, much of them exports, is the pharmaceutical and health care industry.

There is, for example, a huge demand for Sessions Detex labels, which change colour from yellow to red when gamma ray sterilisation is completed – essential indicators for surgeons about to start operations.

The label division, one of three, also meets demand in the cosmetics, food, household and industrial chemicals sector. Special processes need special machines, and that is the task of the machines division, which designs and manufactures labelling and coding machines for printing and applying labels on customers’ filling and packaging production lines.

Then there is the Sessions Ebor Press division, which prints colour leaflets, magazines, books, parking permits and fragrance-testing strips. Sessions of York supplied, for instance, 11 million fragranced “scratch and sniff” labels to a toiletries manufacturer in Hong Kong.

The book connection continues, with the Ebor Press printing books for authors in the US and Cyprus, as well as selling numerous volumes to bookshops overseas.

But there is nothing left on the site that was started by the founder.

For that you have to visit Princess Mary Court, the period street in the York Castle Museum, where a William Alexander Sessions shop is on display.