British Steel has made the biggest single investment in its manufacturing operations in a decade with a £50 million (€56 million) scheme to upgrade its wire rod business.
The quality and range of wire rod produced at company headquarters at Scunthorpe will be significantly improved in quality and range, enabling British Steel to grow in current markets and enter new ones within and outside the UK.
A wider range of sizes – up to 28mm – with tighter tolerances will be possible thanks to the new facility, which will also allow for improvements in surface condition and microstructural properties.
The existing wire rod business, which employs 300 people, will operate as normal through installation.
British Steel wire rod goes into thousands of different applications, including nuts and bolts, car springs and bridge cables.
“This is a major investment in the future of our business, underpinning our commitment to providing customers with higher technical specifications of steel and a diverse, premium product range,” said Paul Martin, British Steel Deputy CEO. “Not only will this increase our ability to serve the domestic market, it will allow us to become a more competitive exporter and accelerate the growth of British Steel in line with our company strategy.”
A new modern wire rod line is included in the investment, designed and installed in the current mill by Primetals. Work will begin this summer, with the new operation scheduled for commissioning in autumn 2019. New labs have just opened, providing the mill with world-class testing facilities.
The expenditure is in addition to the £120 million British Steel has already committed to capital projects during its first three years of business and comes eight months after it bought FNsteel, a premium wire rod manufacturer in The Netherlands.
Paul Martin added: “The mill upgrade will ensure the British Steel name remains synonymous with quality, innovation and product development. Our wire rod business has a growing order book and this investment will let us build on this by guaranteeing the tighter tolerances and improved surface qualities customers demand, particularly in the automotive sector.
“By continuing to make investments like this, and acquiring complementary businesses like FNsteel, we aim to become the steel supplier of choice for more businesses across the world.”
The news follows British Steel reporting a £21 million (EBITDA) profit in Q1.