Liberty House has announced that it will create around 300 new steel jobs in South Yorkshire following the completion of its £100 million deal to acquire the Speciality Steels division of Tata Steel UK. The newly formed company, Liberty Speciality Steels, claims it is making multi-million pound investments to secure the future of five sites across the North of England and the West Midlands.
The company has announced expansion plans that will generate in the region of an additional 300 production jobs in the business as well as protecting 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.
According to Liberty House, Speciality Steels produces a range of high-value steels used in the manufacture of vehicles, aircraft, industrial machinery and equipment for the oil and gas industry.
Liberty plans to invest £20m in new plant and equipment in the first year alone to boost competitiveness, and secure international market leadership for the business. Output will increase substantially at the electric arc furnaces, casting shop and bar mill in Rotherham, with bigger plans across the wider Speciality business in the years ahead.
"Production from the arc furnaces is expected to rise to over a million tonnes per annum and there are plans for the bar mill to roll over 400kt/yr. In addition the business will grow its position in the aerospace markets, utilising recent capital investments at Stocksbridge and investing in additional capacity and new technology.
"The acquisition marks a major step forward for Liberty’s Greensteel strategy as it gives the Group the largest arc furnace capacity in the UK, a key component in its plan to increase low-carbon steel production based on recycling metal in furnaces powered by renewable energy. As part of the Greensteel strategy, Liberty’s sister company SIMEC is actively considering investment in bio-diesel power generation at Speciality Steel sites."
Liberty claims that the Speciality Steels businesses will complement Liberty’s engineering operations in the West Midlands, which already use steel from these plants to make their precision products. The company will explore further downstream investment to make more extensive use of the products from Speciality Steels to boost UK manufacturing.
Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House said that the Speciality Steels business is a global leader in its field, with a highly-skilled and well-motivated workforce. "We are eager to invest so it can grow and achieve its full potential," he said.
"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," Gupta added.
“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,” he said.
Jon Bolton has been appointed chief executive of Liberty Speciality Steels. He said that the business already has a strong market reputation thanks to a combination of advanced equipment capability and a skilled and motivated workforce.
“Through increased output and improved positions in the UK, North American and EU markets, the business can improve its competitiveness and re-establish itself as a global force in the supply of engineering steels,” said Bolton.
“We will be running the business with greater focus and a strong vision and will be capitalising on recent investment in state-of-the-art steel-making facilities to strengthen our position in technically-challenging markets. We are aiming to improve capacity utilisation and productivity for the benefit of the whole business. We are also in discussion with the trade unions on how we can work together to facilitate our ambitious growth plans.”
The acquisition will make Liberty one of the largest steel and engineering employers in the UK with over 4,500 workers.