Outokumpu not under '˜immediate threat'

THE UK operation of steel giant Outokumpu is not under immediate threat of closure after 50 job cuts, a cut in capacity and improved export conditions.

Workers at Outokumpus meltshop in Sheffield. Outokumpu has cut 50 jobs across its Sheffield operations.

The company, which employs 500 in Sheffield, said more than 40 of the 50 redundancies had been voluntary. Other cost saving steps, including closing the pension scheme, freezing salaries and a reduction in spending on raw materials and energy “were sufficient” to adjust to trading conditions. A softer pound, improving conditions for export, and the stabilisation of stainless steel prices had also helped.

In March, Kari Tuutti, chairman of Outokumpu Stainless, warned ‘significant action’ was needed to prevent UK operations - which are all in Sheffield - being shut down altogether. The Finnish-owned company, which employs 11,000 in 30 countries hadn’t made a profit in eight years, he added.

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Martin Pinder, of Outokumpu Sheffield, said the cuts had been effective and the trading situation was slightly better but the firm was not out of the woods.

He added: “There is no immediate threat of closure, the action we have taken to balance the meltshop capacity with demand is sufficient. As we move into summer not everything is headwinds.

“The situation is not recovered and the job cuts are still necessary but the situation is slightly better.

“The redundancy consultation process finished without dispute and we have spent the last month confirming which people will be able to leave.”

Outokumpu has a meltshop and sales and distribution centre off Europa Link at Tinsley and an alloy steel rod unit in Brightside.

Mr Tuutti told staff in March: “We need to take significant actions to minimise the risk of discontinuation of operations in the UK.”