British Steel announces biggest investment in manufacturing for a decade

BRITISH Steel has reported a first quarter profit of £21 million and announced the biggest single investment in its manufacturing operations for a decade.

The British Steel plant in Scunthorpe Picture Scott Merrylees

In its second annual trading update, British Steel said its turnaround remained on track as it revealed that £50m will be invested at its Scunthorpe rod mill.

The company also confirmed that £40m has been committed to other capital expenditure in 2019 to maintain and improve its asset base.

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British Steel’s annual turnover was £1.4 billion, which was an improvement on the £1.2 billion recorded in 2017.

The company employs around 4,000 people at its operations in Scunthorpe, Teesside and Skinningrove.

A spokesman said: “No new jobs will be created by the investment. However, it underlines our commitment to building a sustainable future for our wire rod business, our employees and our customers.”

When asked about the potential impact of President Trump’s steel tariffs, the spokesman said: “US sales represent a small percentage of our exports, and while disappointed by the announcement, we look forward to continuing to supply unique and high quality products to our valued American customers and growing global customer base.

“Tariffs will impact on the world market so we’ll continue working directly with the UK Government, and UK Steel, on this matter and to ensure Britain and Europe don’t again become dumping grounds for cheap steel.”

British Steel executive chairman Roland Junck said: “Our transformation remains firmly on track and continues apace with unprecedented levels of investment going into the business.

“This strength is why a number of leading financial institutions continue to provide us with additional financing to support our investment and growth plans.

“This is not only enabling us to improve our plant, products and services – as demonstrated with our rod mill investment – it’s allowing us to expand our portfolio by making strategic acquisitions.”
Mr Junck added: “Our order book is strong and we’ve the capacity and capability to play a significant role in major infrastructure projects, such as HS2 and the Heathrow expansion.

“We continue to invest in our people and products, remain focused on reducing the cost of liquid steel and are growing into new markets across the globe. “

Unite, the country’s largest union, has repeated its call for UK steel to have tariff free access to the European Union (EU) post-Brexit.

Unite also said that ministers must work with their EU counterparts to resolve the issue of steel tariffs introduced by US president Donald Trump.

Unite national officer for steel Tony Brady said: “This positive news and investment is in no small part down to the British Steel workforce, whose tireless hard work has helped turn the company around. Their commitment and sacrifice has helped secure a brighter future for steelmaking in Scunthorpe.”