The announcement was made as Liberty formally completed a £100m deal to acquire the Speciality Steels division of Tata Steel UK. The deal protects the jobs of 1,700 existing staff at three major sites at Rotherham, Stocksbridge and Brinsworth in South Yorkshire, smaller sites in Bolton, Lancashire, and Wednesbury in the West Midlands, and two distribution centres in China.
The company also announced expansion plans which are expected to create an extra 300 production jobs.
Liberty said it will invest up to £20m in new plant and equipment in the next year to boost competitiveness and secure international market leadership for the business, which produces a range of high-value steels used in the manufacture of vehicles, aircraft, industrial machinery and equipment for the oil and gas industry.
The business will increase output substantially at the electric arc furnaces, casting shop and bar mill in Rotherham, with bigger plans across the wider business in the years ahead.
Production from the arc furnaces is expected to rise to more than one million tonnes a year.
Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House, said: “The Speciality Steels business is a global leader in its field, with a highly skilled and well-motivated workforce and we are eager to invest so it can grow and achieve its full potential.
“Today marks a step change for the Liberty House Group because we are taking on strategically important capacity that will drive expansion in the years ahead.
“It will help us achieve our ‘greensteel’ vision and facilitate investment in engineering products, thereby reducing the supply chain gaps in the UK, especially in automotive and aerospace sectors.
“By investing to acquire Speciality Steels we are casting a big vote of confidence in the future of British industry.
“With the right business model and an innovative approach, the UK steel and engineering sectors can recover and thrive. The Government is now pursuing a new post-Brexit industrial strategy and steel must be at the heart of that strategy.”
The acquisition will make Liberty one of the largest steel and engineering employers in the UK, with more than 4,500 workers.
Bimlendra Jha, chief executive of Tata Steel UK, said: “As a responsible owner, Tata Steel in the last couple of years has undertaken a transformation plan at Speciality Steels, including investing in a state-of-the-art vacuum induction melting furnace, to ensure the business can have a sustainable future.
“We thank the employees, trade unions and management of Speciality Steels for their diligent hard work in the journey to turn around the business in difficult times and we wish them a successful future under new ownership.”
Welcoming the news, Tony Brady the national officer at the trade union Unite, said: “This announcement brings an end to months of agonising uncertainty for Tata’s steel workers in the speciality steel business.
“This is a workforce which has done everything asked of them over the last few years to give speciality steelmaking a fighting chance in the UK.”
Andrew Denniff, the chief executive of Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, said the deal would have a very positive impact on South Yorkshire’s economy.