Tuesday, April 12, 2022

News: Focus stays on Rotherham plant in latest Liberty restructure


Liberty Steel (LSUK) has announced further measures to grow and invest in its core GREENSTEEL operation at Rotherham which could lead to an increase of up to 161 roles.

Employees losing jobs elsewhere could also be transferred to comparable roles at the Rotherham plant.

The company, part of Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance, employs hundreds of staff in South Yorkshire, including in Rotherham. GFG underwent a restructuring and transformation drive following the collapse of its main lender Greensill Capital.

The ambition is to build the Aldwarke plant in Rotherham into a two million tonne per annum (mtpa) recycling production facility feeding its downstream rolling mills producing both long and flat products.

Greensill Capital went into administration last year and as part of a restructuring, Liberty said that it would look to sell its aerospace and special alloys steel business in Stocksbridge, Sheffield but retain its electric arc furnace at Aldwarke in Rotherham.

In October, Liberty Steel restarted production in Rotherham, following an injection £50m of shareholder funds into the business.

Following the significant injection of shareholder funding and a number of successful targeted production campaigns, LSUK has launched a consultation with its employees and unions to complete the restructuring of the special alloys businesses "in order to enhance their productivity and competitiveness ahead of a possible sale or partnership."

This is anticipated to result in a net reduction of approximately 50 roles after factoring in new and vacant roles at its nearby GREENSTEEL operation in Rotherham fuelled by new investment and volume growth.

These reductions are proposed as 162 roles at the High Value Manufacturing Stocksbridge plant and 45 in the Performance Steels business in West Bromwich. At the same time, LSUK will invest in the ramp up of GREENSTEEL production, recycling steel scrap in high volumes into a full range of commercial steels that can meet growing infrastructure demand in the UK and abroad. This will require an increase of potentially up to 161 roles at the Rotherham plant, which with its two electric arc furnaces, remains the anchor plant for LSUK’s GREENSTEEL production.

LSUK said that it was confident that the proposed restructuring will put these businesses on a sustainable footing giving them a strong commercial future in their target markets.

Jeffrey Kabel, Chief Transformation Officer, LIBERTY Steel Group said: “LIBERTY’s special alloys are unique, high potential businesses, and their quality products are prized by customers in strategic sectors such as aerospace and energy. The steps we’re announcing today will help ensure they are competitive in the future, with job creation at our Rotherham plant enabling us to mitigate a large percentage of role reductions at other sites. It sets a strong platform for LIBERTY’s GREENSTEEL expansion in which we will increase recycling of steel scrap in low carbon electric arc furnaces to meet growing demand in infrastructure and construction.”

Wentworth and Dearne MP, John Healey, said: "These are really tough trading times for the UK steel industry, with sky high energy costs and little help from Government. The job losses at Stocksbridge are a serious concern and workers there will want to see Liberty secure a long-term investment partner soon.

"But the 161 extra jobs at Aldwarke are welcome news, and should give Stocksbridge workers the opportunity to switch across. This confirms the company’s confidence in the Rotherham site to deliver the steel needed by Liberty for its UK operations."

Rotherham MP, Sarah Champion, added: "Until we can scrutinise the details of the restructure at the various Liberty South Yorkshire plants, it is difficult to be anything other than nervous.

"My thoughts are with the workers and their families at this hugely stressful time. I know they have done all they can over the last decade to accommodate the changing global market, ownership and government priorities. Now is not the time for Liberty to repay that loyalty by cutting highly skilled workers from a strategic industry that we need more than ever."

Liberty Steel website

Images: Liberty Steel


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