Fewer job losses at Forgemasters

Forgemasters is set to confirm about 50 redundancies by the end of this week - but boss Graham Honeyman is certain better times lie ahead.

Red hot metal being moved across the heavy forge at the Forgemasters Works in Sheffield. Photo: John Giles/PA Wire

The Brightside steelmaker will lose about 30 staff voluntarily and make 20 compulsory redundancies in the face of “fierce” global competition. It is also set to cut back on overtime.

In January it was feared up to 100 jobs could go after the firm announced it lost almost £10m in the 18 months to December 2014.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Now Mr Honeyman expects the company to be in a break-even position by the “back end of 2017” after launching a three-year turnaround plan.

It includes investment in plant and machinery in a bid to be more efficient, much of it in the melt shop.

Forgemasters has had a tumultuous few months after being hit by allegations it could be bought by the Chinese - claims vociferously denied by Mr Honeyman.

Then it was embroiled in a war of words with government over contracts for nuclear power stations going to British companies.

Results for last year are set to reveal continuing, but smaller, losses when published at the end of March, Mr Honeyman said.

But long-term, the outlook was good.

He said: “I’m 100 per cent confident in the future, we are going through a difficult time but we are in a better condition than many.

“We will get out of it for certain, we make highly technical forgings and castings of very high quality for which there will always be a place in the market.

“Despite everything, we are investing as much in R&D as ever.

“All our competitors are owned by much bigger corporations whereas we are privately owned - we have to fight every day.

“I don’t really like to get into a standing argument with people. But those forgings for Hinkley, as I understand, have already been made. We were never invited to bid for them.

“I think it ought to be British steel going into British nuclear power stations to support manufacturing industries. That’s what the rest of the world does.”