British Steel set to get back into profit as it hires more staff

THE company which revived the British Steel brand is on track to return the business to profit in this financial year.

Library photo of Paul Cockram (left) and James Egan in the Long Products business at the renamed British Steel plant in Scunthorpe  Photo: Steve Morgan/British Steel/PA Wire
Library photo of Paul Cockram (left) and James Egan in the Long Products business at the renamed British Steel plant in Scunthorpe Photo: Steve Morgan/British Steel/PA Wire

The firm marked 100 days since the deal by announcing that it had completed the first stage of its turnaround plan. So far, it has hired 270 new employees, including 48 apprentices, and also pledged to make a £50 million capital investment.

The company was launched in June after former owner Tata Steel sold its steelworks in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, as well as sites in Teesside, Workington and York, to turnaround specialist Greybull Capital.

British Steel said that suppliers and customers have been keen to do business, including Caterpillar, Toyota, Network Rail, Cargill, William Hare, Apollo, Vesuvius and Elland Steel Structures.

British Steel’s executive chairman Roland Junck said: “I am delighted to be able to announce that we have hit our performance targets and returned the business to profitability in our first 100 days as an independent company.

“These results are testament to the hard work of our employees and their determination to implement the turnaround plan.

“I believe we are now better placed to capitalise on our strong heritage, vastly experienced and skilled workforce and world-class products.

“The transformation of our business will make sure we maintain the pace of growth and move forward as an outward-looking profit-making business.

“But while our future remains firmly in our hands, the UK steel industry still faces many challenges.

“That is why we are pleased to remain in constructive dialogue with the Government about the strategy needed to support British Steel and ensure that it is operating on a level playing field.”

“It goes without saying that any such strategy must be long-term and cross all political divides if it is to achieve the goals we all share.”

The firm, which employs 4,800 staff, produces more than 2.8 million tonnes of steel every year.

“We’ve been gaining market share and should come back to the position of being a (key) UK construction supplier, but we are not there yet,” Mr Junck said.

The British steel industry was at a disadvantage compared with European rivals, and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has not made things any easier, he said.

“There are differences which handicap the UK in terms of business rates, energy prices. If I had this plant in Germany we’d be in a much better condition.”

The company has made a commitment to carry out a £4.2m investment in Scunthorpe’s basic oxygen steelmaking plant.

Network Rail is one of British Steel’s main partners, with 98 per cent of the rail it lays in the UK manufactured at the Scunthorpe plant.

Billington Structures is one of the UK’s biggest structural steelwork contractors and predominantly use British Steel sections, manufactured in Scunthorpe and Teesside, in many of its major projects, including RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, One Bedford Avenue in London and the Next Distribution Centre, in Doncaster.

Mark Smith, Billington’s CEO, said: “We are thrilled the British Steel brand has re-emerged as they have been our key partner for steel supply since 1993, providing over 375,000 tonnes. Working closely with British Steel allows us to supply our customers with the quality products and services they demand.

“It is hugely encouraging to see the new business making great progress.”

BRITISH Steel has returned to profit by boosting efficiency after being hived off from India’s Tata Steel.

Investment firm Greybull Capital LLP bought Tata’s Long Products Europe division in Scunthorpe, after the Indian conglomerate’s decision to sell up in Britain. The annual capacity of British Steel’s Scunthorpe site is 4.5m tonnes , which is enough to build 615 Eiffel Towers or 80 Empire State Buildings.

The sprawling Scunthorpe site covers more than 2,200 acres and has more than 100 miles of its own rail network.The lengths of rail the Scunthorpe site makes for Network Rail are up to 216metres long.

The four blast furnaces on site are named after past queens, Mary, Bess, Anne and Victoria. The site uses 40million gallons of water every week, taken from local rivers. The temperature in the blast furnaces can reach 2,200 degrees Celcius.

Some recent landmark projects that have been built using British Steel products include: The Olympic Stadium, The Shard, The Etihad Stadium, Heathrow’s Terminal 5, the First Direct Arena in Leeds and Sydney Harbour Bridge.