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British steel: Forging new opportunities for growth

There’s plenty going on in the British steel industry to attract attention-grabbing headlines, my latest favourite being: ‘UK construction flirting with recession’.

For example, we’ve just had the Office for National Statistics put out an update on construction output saying new orders had dropped at their fastest quarterly rate since 2014.

The merger of steel plants Tata and ThyssenKrupp is also creating uncertainty in an industry troubled by oversupply in recent years.

But I’m not worried. In fact, I commissioned a new cold steel rolling mill to supply steel frame sections to the construction industry, because I believe a resurgence in British steel is coming.

Manufacturing boon

While ONS figures suggest construction orders are down, manufacturing output is up year on year. The short-term boost to many UK firms from the fall in the value of the pound post-EU referendum is helping British exports while simultaneously making imports less attractive. Add to this the impact of anti-dumping measures and the application of import tariffs and we’re well on our way to creating a more level playing field when it comes to supply.

On home soil, the construction side of the steel industry has reason to feel optimistic, despite what the latest figures say. The urgent need for new housing (especially affordable housing), as well as dual-purpose commercial and residential developments and straight commercial builds, gives reason to believe the industry’s fortunes are on the up.

Councils in particular are coming under increasing pressure to provide additional affordable housing for residents, leading to the requirements for many commercial developers in cities such as London to plan joint commercial-residential ventures to achieve the planning permissions they need.

Quality market

Launching a new steel mill with the market on an upward cycle means we can contribute to its rebirth.

Our processes involve loading high-quality metal strip onto a decoiler and cold rolling through forming rolls to fabricate high-specification but lightweight sections, which can be used in either load-bearing prefabricated wall and floor panels or in ‘stick built’ onsite situations.

These offerings can contribute to a market with the ability to stand up to any economic climate and form a sustainable part of the UK economy.

Chris Morton is managing director of Caledan

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