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Liberty chief predicts further strong growth for Speciality Steel business following successful first year
Production from South Yorkshire’s speciality steel plants has soared by an impressive 63% since being acquired by fast-growing global metals and industrials group, Liberty House – part of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance – a year ago.
Speaking on the first anniversary today (Tuesday May 1st) of Liberty purchasing Speciality Steels production facilities at Rotherham and Stocksbridge, Jon Bolton, chief executive of Liberty Steels UK said the plants were on target to continue their strong comeback.
He reported that, since taking possession of the business, now called Liberty Speciality Steels, the Group has created 300 new jobs and boosted production of high-grade steels from 179,000 tonnes-a-year in 2016/17 to 292,000 tonnes this year and is aiming to reach output of more than a million tonnes a year by 2020.
Steels from the 2,000-worker Yorkshire plants and their support centres in Lancashire and the Midlands are sold throughout the world for highly-specialised applications such as aerospace, automotive and industrial equipment.
Mr Bolton, said the UK steel industry had a huge opportunity to reclaim its own home market, currently dominated by imports.
But, to become more competitive and sustainable, he said, the industry needed to become greener, more innovative and more integrated with the manufacturing supply chain. Moreover, he added, it needed to attract and train a new generation of talented young people.
Mr Bolton said Liberty Speciality Steels was at the forefront of this new approach under the GFG Alliance’s GREENSTEEL banner. GREENSTEEL is a low-carbon method of steelmaking, recycling scrap metal using renewable energy and then manufacturing products closer to end users.
He added: “As CEO of Liberty Steel UK, I am proud to say we now employ over 3,000 people in UK steel production – part of GFG’s worldwide family of 12,500 staff in over 30 countries. Our Rotherham operation has 1.3 million tonnes of liquid steelmaking capacity and our aim is to build nationwide GREENSTEEL production capacity of 5m tonnes over the next few years.
“It’s exactly a year since Liberty acquired Speciality Steels and what a year it has been, re-opening various assets including a furnace, a small bloom caster and a coil line so that we can ramp up production and increase sales into bar markets.
“This could not have been achieved without the dedication of our people and their passion for securing the future of the industry in the region as well as our collaboration with stakeholders such as government and trade unions.
“For me, the future relies on attracting new people into the industry and investing in their skills. Last year we took on 26 Graduates and Apprentices, this year we are recruiting 30 more. And we continue to reach out to students through our industrial cadet programme.”
He said Liberty would continue to play a lead role with Sheffield University and manufacturers such as Boeing in the Government-backed CASCADE innovation programme which is developing and testing metal powders that will maximise manufacturing efficiency and minimise waste, in line with the GREENSTEEL strategy.
Mr Bolton concluded: “We took over these South Yorkshire plants at the most difficult of times for the industry, but I believe we are doing the right things and that this industry now has a bright and sustainable future in the UK.”
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