Santa Says 48 Days Left!

It’s certainly been a very exciting day here at All Steels because our large outside Christmas Tree is now up and beautifully adorned with its usual sparkling red & gold baubles! The tree’s many festive fairy lights, and including its large tree top star are all also shining very brightly too! We hope that all of our Thirsk neighbours will really enjoy seeing and sharing this seasonal sight with us throughout the next couple of winter months.

Can you believe that there’s now only 48 days left until Christmas Day 2019! However, All Steels feels it’s perfectly acceptable now to start getting into the festive spirit and sharing some good cheer all around! We’re sure that you will agree our wonderful 2019 Christmas Tree is a very pretty sight to behold, and one that will no doubt put a smile on your face too each time you pass by it.

With special thanks to Freddie (our Credit Controller Emily’s little boy) who officially picked out our tree this year. It’s never that easy picking the perfect shape, height plus a truly straight looking Christmas Tree is it, so what a truly great job he did?!

Freddie understands that there are no presents under the tree yet because Santa only delivers presents on Christmas Eve and of course only to those who have been good all year!

Steel Prices Alert

Dear All Steels Customers
It is only at unprecedented times that we feel the need to go to print on events that are having a major impact on steel prices and we have again reached such a point in time.
As always for simplicity we will keep to straight forward facts that are mainly in the public domain and leave you to make your own judgement.  From an All Steels perspective however we just feel it is necessary to convey such news so that all our customers are forewarned as to why our prices are rising with the added problem of stock outages on a number of our key products that will be difficult to replace until early July 2019.
The issues are basically four fold: Iron Ore, Coking Coal, Scrap & Safeguards.  There is also the BREXIT factor to come into play but this is such an unknown we are wisely keeping away from this debate.

Iron Ore
The catalyst for change on steel prices started with the disaster that took place in Brazil on the 25 January 2019 with the collapse of a major dam at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão mine.  This was the second Brazilian dam to collapse in 3 years linked to iron ore production.  The death toll on this occasion is likely to exceed 300 people and the severity of the humanitarian and environmental disaster has prompted huge government intervention.
As of this morning Vale declared force majeure on some iron ore contracts after a court-ordered halt to a mine responsible for nearly 9 per cent of Vale’s output.  The force majeure came after a court on Monday ordered it to stop using eight tailings dams, including one affecting production of about 30 million tonnes of iron ore output per annum.
Numerous dams in Brazil are now coming under heavy scrutiny and further mining operations could be suspended.
Iron ore prices have surged since the disaster, hitting effectively a two-year high.
The graph below shows the rate of price change.  There are various published iron ore price indices / recordings but they all show the same trend movement.  The graph below is for: XSIO001 – SGX 62% Fe Iron Ore Cash-Settled Swaps (dry metric tonne) – CFR Tiamjin Port, China import $/t.
What the graph below shows is over a 30% increase in iron ore prices since the December year end. This equates to a $25 per tonne movement but with 1.7t of iron ore required to make a tonne of steel this amounts to a $42.50 per tonne impact on steel prices.

What is also known is that Europe is one of the large export markets for Brazilian iron ore and with many of the European buyers being forced to find new supplies quickly following Vale’s force majeure such action logically suggests further upward price pressure will follow.

Coking Coal
The news of Monsoon weather conditions in Queensland Australia is making world news headlines with the city of Townsville being completely flooded as officials were forced to release floodgates at an overwhelmed dam.  Loss of human life was again experienced and at least 20,000 homes have been flooded.
The city’s streets are reportedly full of washed in crocodiles and snakes and whilst this remains the main focus of the news feeds the monsoon has now moved south into the Bowen Basin and heading towards McKay where all the major Australian thermal coal mines and coal port terminals are located.
There is plenty of web news live on this topic as the heavy rains continue e.g.
A paragraph in this link reads as follows:
Coking coal disruptions: “Floods in Queensland, Australia have led to some disruptions at coal mines and export terminals in the region. Queensland’s main coal exporting terminal, Abbott Point has suspended operations, whilst Glencore has also halted operations at its Collinsville and Newlands mines.  This comes at a time when there is plenty of uncertainty over iron ore supply, following the recent Vale dam accident. Yesterday, Vale declared force majeure on some contracts, following a court order to suspend 30mtpa of capacity.”
The events of the Australian mines being hit by the monsoon is breaking news so the impact on coking coal prices will not be known until early next week but the below reports generated by Simpson Spencer Young show a $15 per tonne rise in coking coal prices over the last 2 week period against a background of forecasters predicting a decline in coking coal prices.  (It is estimated that 0.7t of coking coal is required to produce a tonne of steel).


When any events in the world have a potential impact on steel prices Turkish scrap prices always respond the quickest and most aggressively.  As a single price indicator the Turkish scrap price is therefore an excellent barometer to watch.
Given the Iron ore and coking coal situation it is therefore not surprising to yet again see a huge shift in Turkish scrap prices.
There is little narrative that is required to explain the below.  An upward shift in price of $49 per tonne in less than a month with 1.1t of scrap required to make a tonne of steel.

This evening one of our major Turkish steel suppliers refused to commit to an offer as scrap prices today moved up by the hour as they were trying to buy and they are expecting more of the same in the lead up to the weekend.

The impact of EU Safeguards only started to materialise in the closing weeks of December as quota levels by product quickly started to fill up.  As All Steels Trading we had first-hand experience with a December shipload of hollow sections that we quite simply had to bond to avoid the risk of a 25% duty charge.  On 2 February 2019 we entered a new 5 month duty window and like many other traders we were busy customs clearing our bonded cargos but the situation is very confusing and extremely high risk going forward over the next 2 quarters.
We are sure most of you will be up to speed on EU Safeguards but the below should help to clarify how the current situation is going to result in All Steels Trading having stock outages during the first half of the year.
For the purpose of explaining our issues we will focus specifically on hollow sections even though we believe some other products have bigger issues.
During the first EU Safeguard quota window that ran from 19 July 2018 to 1 February 2019 with an allowed quota level on hollow sections of 387,343 tonnes for all non-EU suppliers.  (The whole quota was fully utilised).
The second EU Safeguard quota window runs from 2 February 2019 to 1 July 2019 but this time the quota is broken down by country at the following levels.

 Country Tonnage Quota 
 Turkey  154,436
 Russia  35,406
 Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia  34,028
 Ukraine  25,240
 Switzerland  25,265
 Belarus  20,898
 Other Countries  25,265

Our general concerns are:

1: The Turkish hollow sections quota is set at a low level as it is based on a 3 year average trade level pre July 2018.  In more recent times Turkey has been a much more dominant supplier to Europe as Trump’s 50% import tariff on Turkish hollow sections effectively shut the door on Turkish hollow sections exports to the USA.  The Turkish EU Safeguard quota is therefore expected to be utilised very early in this new window.
2: On 2 January 2019 many traders throughout Europe were known to be bonding Turkish hollow sections just like All Steels Trading so we believe that a huge loading against the allowed allocation is already in place.
3: It is also known that many traders have attempted to front load the quota window just like All Steels Trading and have shiploads due to arrive over the coming months.  Again the number of such ships already on the high seas heading towards Europe is known to be large and as each week drifts by the chances of being hit with a 25% duty as the quota gets exhausted becomes a huge danger!
4: The EU commission are struggling to reconcile tonnage receipts due to the added complexity of also setting tonnes by country.  At present we have no visibility of where imports are against the set quotas for any product and we are being advised by the commission that it could take up until 19 February 2019 for them to get their system up and running.  All traders are therefore running blind with the risk of retrospective duty charges being a real possibility on goods already imported on certain products.

With such confusion All Steels Trading is finding it impossible to buy non EU hollow sections for the sale of such goods prior to 1 July 2019.
If we bought more hollow sections today from Turkey we either run the risk of paying out a 25% duty on arrival or if timing allows putting such new material in bonding until 1 July 2019, which would ultimately leave us letting customers down and incurring huge incremental financing and warehousing costs.  The bottom line is therefore on sizes where we already have zero stock or zero remaining availability on our February 2019 ship this will remain our position until 1 July 2019.  We would also add that we are already seeing a high level of sales so we do believe our stocks will soon become depleted.

We trust that you will appreciate this update and if you have any queries please give me or one of All Steels Trading’s sales team members a call.

Best regards
Laurence McDougall

Christmas Joy at All Steels!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Toys in every store
But we think the prettiest sight to see is the sparkling dressed tree outside All Steels Trading’s front door!


EUROMETAL Steel Net Forum

EUROMETAL Steel Net Forum & International Steel Trade Day (9th October 2018) in Hamburg certainly attracted an influential crowd of professionals and stakeholders in the steel market. Naturally, the list of invited conference delegates and speakers included steel aficionado representatives from All Steels Trading!

The International Steel Trade Session for example debated the latest developments in the field of steel trade policy, anti-dumping, steel trade cases, safeguard measures, rising protectionism and their impacts on the steel supply of the European market.  It’s fair to say that All Steels Trading’s Managing Director (Laurence McDougall) in his invited capacity as a steel trading expert panellist helped to deliver some amazing value and insights on such highly topical and relevant matters for the audience!

AST's EU Safeguards (Import Duties) Memo

Dear All Steels Trading Customers,

Further announcements were made at the end of last week with regard to safeguard measures to be wisely applied in retaliation to the US Section 232 implementation.

As All Steels Trading we always try to keep our customers fully informed on any significant changes in the marketplace, which will automatically affect steel prices, and the impact of safeguards is likely to be the most dramatic overnight change when the official implementation is announced.

Through our own rolling mills’ trade association links with Eurofer, who act as the interface for steel manufacturers in Europe with the European Commission, All Steels Trading learnt on Friday evening that safeguard duties are highly likely to kick in on steel imported from all non-EU countries as from the 17th July 2018 on a quota basis.  However, because it will be a low quota level and backdated to the 1st January 2018, and imports into the EU have been high this year to date, All Steels Trading believes that the duties will still apply very quickly.

Statement from our own rolling mills’ trade association on Friday night read as follows:

EU Member States Vote to Introduce Safeguard Measures - EU member states meeting in Brussels yesterday voted to introduce provisional safeguard measures in response to the US steel tariffs. These measures (expected to be in place by 17th July) are intended to guard against surges in steel imports resulting from trade diverted away from the US, are urgently needed as trade data shows significant increases in imports for certain products, such as heavy sections and rebar, already this year. This comes on top of the record imports highs seen in 2017. The measures will take the form of tariff rate quotas, with volumes up to the 2015-17 average for each product permitted to enter into the EU tariff free, with only those above the permitted level subject to a 25% tariff. The steel industry had strongly pushed for quotas to be set at national levels to prevent front-loading and stockpiling, but at least for provisional measures the quotas will be set at a global level. The steel sector will continue to push for a more nuanced approach for definitive measures which will need to be decided upon within 200 days. We understand that 25 countries voted in favour of the measures, including the UK, with just three abstaining.

In light of this situation All Steels Trading will only provide quotations for the coming week with 12 hours validity and we must warn you that the upward change in price could be very significant, with increases of £100-150 per tonne being likely across most of the products we offer.  This is simply taking into consideration likely replacement price changes from our suppliers, including shipments that are about to sail from Turkey that could be subject to 25% duties on arrival.

It is clearly a time for recognising the value of your stock and alerting your own sales people to the significance of the safeguard event that will most likely unfold in less than 10 days’ time.

Best regards
Laurence McDougall

We Steel Believe!

But Homeward Bound!

The title chosen for the 2015 Made in Steel exhibition and conference held in Milan was WE STEEL BELIEVE – a motto and play-on-words expressing the underlying spirit of an event whose sights were set on the future. It most definitely turned out to be a full immersion in the future, a smart sustainable future for the whole steel industry including All Steels Trading and our co-exhibitor sister manufacturing companies: Special Steel Sections and The Steel Ball Company!

What a fantastic, memorable and educational experience All Steels Trading’s team has gained by participating in such a highly innovative international trade fair. As we anticipated exhibiting at this critically acclaimed steel industry show meant being part of an exclusive and unique context of visibility as well as providing the perfect opportunity to develop qualified contacts and to find new worldwide outlets for our extensive range of steel products. No doubt we will return as an exhibitor in 2017 for the seventh edition of Made in Steel in Milan.

In the meantime our exhibition stand seen below is now neatly packed away and making its way safely back home to the UK but its next outing will be fairly soon i.e. in April 2016 when we will be exhibiting at Tube & Wire in Düsseldorf. We are already looking forward to the possibility of meeting you there but of course there’s always the possibility that we might get the chance to see you before then!


Three Days Made of Steel!

Made in Steel Milan 20-22 May 2015

The curtain finally went up this morning on Made in Steel 2015, which is the main event in Southern Europe dedicated to the entire iron and steel industry from production, distribution, manufacturing and processing right up to the final application of steel. This distinguished internal trade fair is able to offer not only the presence of key players in the iron and steel industry, which of course includes All Steels Trading and our two manufacturing sister companies but also a rich timetable of conferences with prestigious speakers from the academic world, from national and international institutions and from the business community.

The All Steels Trading team were extremely pleased to attract a really great crowd of visitors to our stand this morning and they are looking forward to welcoming many more equally interested visitors over the next two and a half days of the Made in Steel conference. Please do drop by and visit our exhibition booth if you can. We are located in G06 Pavilion 12.

Here at All Steels Trading we are mindful of the fact that just three exhibition stand winners will be selected and awarded tomorrow tonight, during the gala dinner. The “Best Communication Stand” award will be granted to the exhibition stand boasting the clearest and most effective exhibition communication strategy. The most international stand will be recognised with the “Best International Stand” award while the “Best Friendly Stand” award will be given to the most welcoming stand of the exhibition. All Steels Trading will be delighted to receive any one of the stand exhibition awards on offer tomorrow tonight so fingers crossed here! In the interim you can judge our exhibition booth for yourself – All Steels Trading’s Managing Director aka Laurence McDougall can be seen in the image to the left deep in discussion with several visitors to our trade show stand. 

Eastern Trade Opportunities

AST in The Press (York) published 8 April 2015

EASTERN Europe and Turkey offers a myriad of opportunities for businesses in North Yorkshire looking to trade beyond the main EU markets of Germany, France and Italy according to export experts.

The seventh Export Network event was organised as part of the We are International campaign by the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, which covers York, in partnership with international trade specialists Chamber International, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) Yorkshire, Enterprise Europe Network and MY Export Hub. Delegates at the event, held in Leeds, heard how Eastern European economies are catching up with the rest of the EU and believe that trade with the UK can be a stepping stone to greater prosperity, while Turkey is seeking opportunities to build its own its own blue-chip global businesses.

One of the attendees at the event was Victoria Bowater, International Business Development Executive at Thirsk-based steel specialist All Steels Trading. She said: "About ten per cent of our current turnover is exports but we’re looking to increase this significantly in the years ahead and were interested in what this event had to offer.

"Our current export markets are Ireland, mainland Europe and Scandinavia. We are looking to double our export business during the next two to three years by looking at markets throughout the rest of the world, taking export sales to around £10 million.

“The Export Network event was very useful in making new contacts, which will hopefully lead to our business entering new markets."

The event featured talks from the chief executive of British Romanian Chamber of Commerce, the director of British Polish Chamber of Commerce, and the chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Turkey.

Face-to-Face & Building Trust

In the current marketing climate it’s easy to become caught up with the hype over new and innovative methods, like social media, email marketing and content.  However, here at All Steels Trading we take the view that face-to-face meetings are still the most important ingredient for developing strong business relationships over the long term.

Members of All Steels Trading's sales team are currently in Germany exhibiting at Tube 2014 in Düsseldorf.  Please do not hesitate to put our sales department's knowledge about long rolled or niche market steel products to the test if you are attending the Tube 2014 fairground - we have every confidence that you will not be disappointed!

Exhibiting at Tube 2014

It's Sunday night and the All Steels Trading stand is ready to welcome all visitors when the doors to Tube 2014 officially open tomorrow morning.

Our exhibition team will be delighted to see guests shortly now at our stand in Hall 04/B21.  We will be offering customers an extremely wide range of angles, beams, sections and merchant bar products to choose from.  In addition All Steels Trading will also be demonstrating our unique skill in being able to source and supply niche market steel products for customers spread throughout the world.

AST’s Sister Company Enhances its Global Audience!

We would like to congratulate The Steel Ball Company on the launch of their new dynamic multilingual website, which can be seen at the following address:

The new website is available to view in Chinese, English, French, German & Spanish. The Steel Ball Company may well be over 90 years old but its forward thinking Directors appreciate that for businesses wishing to get that competitive advantage, a multilingual website now presents one of the most high impact means of expanding a customer base and securing greater export sales volumes.

The majority of the translation work for the new website was carried out by Lingo24. In 2010 Lingo24 won the HSBC Business Thinking award for Scotland & Northern Ireland the same year that All Steels Trading won the award for the North East of England. So it’s pleasing to report that a chance meeting at the 2010 HSBC final in Hong Kong of two Directors from two very different business genres prompted the start of a mutually beneficial & harmonious business relationship.

Here at AST we have every confidence that The Steel Ball Company's new multilingual website will also attract a large regular global audience and be the envy of its competitors worldwide!

All Steels' New Scania Truck Arrives

A New Scania Truck For AST.

On Friday the 17th May 2013 All Steels Trading Ltd took delivery of a new Scania R500 Topline Griffin truck with a 16 litre V8 engine.

Steve Reay is to be the proud driver of the new AST vehicle and he is really looking forward to his first overnight stay in the truck, which is best described as a mobile 5 star luxury hotel room equipped with a deluxe double bed and kitchen fittings.


We think it is fair to say that Steve could even give Heston Blumenthal a run for his money in terms of the culinary delights that he could conjure up in his bespoke truck kitchenette.

The new vehicle should further enhance AST's delivery reliability and ensure that our driver Steve always turns up with a smile on his face too.

So please do keep a look out for Steve in our shiny new truck coming to a Works like yours soon!  


Inter – House Football Match Friday 12th April 2013

  The Winning Team!

All Steels Trading’s very own Sales and Logistics Executives Jon Jacobs and Adam Barton joined ranks with fellow office and works employees in sister business Tomrods for a friendly game of seven a side football after hours on Friday 12th April 2013.  A full size grass pitch was professionally marked out on site and newly purchased goal posts were erected to mark the occasion of this inaugural inter-house football competition.









The Opposition

So it is particularly pleasing to report here that the All Steels multi-talented lads helped their team to take the match to a thrilling 3-2 victory under the supervision of Managing Director Laurence McDougall who is now considering a potential new career in full time football management!  Perhaps Paolo Di Canio’s new reign at Sunderland AFC could actually prove to be short lived if any scouts from the neighbouring club witnessed McDougall manage his team to ultimate victory!  When the half time whistle blew it was all to play for with a stalemate draw of one goal each.

Chairman John Thompson’s team gave fierce competition throughout but a major turning point in the game came for McDougall’s players close to the end of the second half when Captain Jon Jacobs scored a brilliant killer tactical goal bringing the match back to a draw.  The momentum continued and the finale came shortly afterwards when Chris Hall’s volleying goal into the top right net in the closing minute was hit with such speed and precision that not even Joe Hart could have made the save!  A rematch will no doubt be called for and McDougall will undoubtedly be preparing his pri zed players for their next footballing match fixture. 




McDougall’s winning team consisted of the following players:

Jon “Speedy “Jacobs (Captain)

Adam “Climbing” Barton

Dan “Sliding” Groves

“PC” Chris Hall

“Little” Mark Stapylton

Adam “Towering” Grant

Andy “The Hat” Wastell

David “Scissor Kick” Edwards

Danny “HAB” Moorey

Dave “Sargent Major” Cotton

Alex “Mini Doodles” McDougall

 The opposition players lead by John Thompson:

John “The Boss” Thompson (Captain/Player Manager)

Jacek “The Mean Machine” Przybyl

Neil “The Hair” Latcham

Mike “New Lad Upstairs” Terry

Tim “Twiggy” Whiting

Tom “The Unit” McDougall

Vitalijs “The Power” Cernenoks

Richard “Half Pipe” Cowgill

Kerry “The New Kid” Haw

George “Baby Face” Thompson


The after match celebrations where greatly assisted by Works Manager Mark Cowgill’s Michelin Star deserving hot dog and beer refreshment stand and it is fair to say that despite any subsequent bruises a great evening was had by all.

Editor:  Needless to say – Laurence McDougall

Advertised Availability

Dear Customers

In our stock offer of the 29th November 2012 we conveyed a number of factual events that signalled a warning that steel prices would rise.  (A copy of the latter mail is copied below).

In this New Year message we must warn you as a valued customer that changes in world iron ore spot prices are surpassing our previous warnings and increasing at an alarming rate.

As a relatively small trading operation in the UK we can’t provide a full explanation for these changing conditions but key influences are understood to be as follows:

· Iron ore mining was significantly cut back in the latter half of 2012 as demand substantially weakened.

· Numerous new iron ore projects were mothballed as concerns increased with regards to anticipated weak demand and falling prices.

· Stock levels at Chinese ports tumbled by the end of 2012 to a 2 year low as the market expected further price deterioration.

· Some of India’s largest mines were closed down by governing bodies due to corruption related issues.

· Large numbers of Chinese iron ore mines significantly cut back production as steel plants went into a big stock reduction programme.

It would now seem that the supply balance tipped far too low just at a time when buying and production activity in China has reignited thus resulting in a huge iron ore price escalation.

Since the end of Q3 2012 spot iron ore prices have nearly doubled. i.e. CFR Chinese price for iron ore 62% fines (the key ingredient for steel making), has increased from $85p/tonne to $160p/tonne as of last night. In the last 7 days the price has been rising by as much as $5p/tonne per day! As of now we are also seeing World scrap prices quickly increasing to reflect the changing iron ore situation.

The graph below shows iron ore price changes over the last 6 week period:

In the short term this escalation looks set to continue and all our steel suppliers are having to react to this changing situation so we are faced with big increases on replacement stock especially on beams, columns, HEBs, PFCs and angles.

Please therefore be warned that you will see an immediate impact on new prices that we can offer as of today.  Based on current visibility we cannot see this changing in the immediate months ahead. If anything price escalation and tightening availability is simply going to increase.

Naturally we have reflected the changing situation in our advertised prices. Please also note that our selling prices for beams and columns also now reflect the size extra differentials introduced by the UK's domestic producer, which we expect the market place to fully adopt from the start of this new year.

If you have any questions with regards to this message please give us a call and we will try to provide any further clarity.

Best regards from everyone at All Steels Trading Ltd.

Advertised Availability

Dear Customers

For those of you that do not subscribe to the online steel journals we feel that it is important to highlight some of the recent media headlines and price increase announcements made by leading producers:

News article bullet points over the last 7 days:

· Steel scrap shortage is fuelling a revival in long product prices in Europe.

· US scrap prices surge sharply in November 2012; up almost $55pt on the previous month.

· Scrap import prices are rising in East Asia, with suppliers hiking offers and withholding supply.

· One of Europe’s largest producers of flat rolled ‘ILVA’ risks shutdown on Dec 14 due to raw material shortage.  The plant also has on-going legal battles relating to environmental pollution issues, which could force a complete or partial closure of the works. This week Prosecutors obtained a court order to seize all the steel produced in the last four months to partially cover likely funds. To add to Ilva’s woes it is reported this morning that a heavy storm, like a tornado has devastated its Steel Mill in Taranto causing serious damages mainly to port infrastructures as well as causing a fire inside the mill. Damage has also been reported in coke ovens, the Blast Furnace and Converters.

· Peiner Träger GmbH of Salzgitter Group has announced an increase of EUR 100 per tonne on all its European steel section prices.

· Duferdofin-Nucor announced a further $25pt price increase for sections yesterday taking their total increase to $45pt with immediate effect.

· Tata Steel UK has issued a letter to all UK customers announcing a £30pt price increase on all newly produced long and flat rolled products.

· ArcelorMittal has announced a Euro 40pt increase on flat rolled products with similar increases likely to be announced on long products.

· Spanish-based Celsa Group has announced its intention to lift its section price offers by €50p/t with immediate effect. They also warned that similar increases will follow on wire rod and merchant bar.

· The threat of anti-dumping duties still hangs over Turkish hollow sections imports with duties rumoured to be up to a potential 10% premium. · Rebar price hikes of $35pt in the US market are seen to be sticking.

· Bullish mood grows in Europe, N. America according to The Steel Index’s latest 3 month forward survey.

All Steels Trading Ltd feels that it is important to convey such news to give all of our customers fair warning of price advancements, which we will be making on both our stock and forward offers over the weeks ahead.  The next few days will therefore present some of the last opportunities to avoid the price escalation that is clearly going to unfold.



Firms Urged to Race into the Export Market - Yorkshire Post HSBC Breakfast 2011 May 12th

Panellists, Mark Vines (North East Regional Commercial Director HSBC), Mark Berrisford-Smith (Senior Economist HSBC), Bernard Ginns, (Yorkshire Post Business Editor), Laurence McDougall (Director of All Steels Trading) and Andrew Neil (Journalist and Presenter).

Yorkshire business leaders with international ambitions went to Wetherby Racecourse this week to hear straight from the horse’s mouth how to break into overseas markets.

The event, organised by HSBC and hosted by broadcaster Andrew Neil, featured expert advice from economists, bankers and businesses that have tasted success abroad.

Mr Neil told the audience: “Britain is the world’s sixth largest exporter.  We export a larger percentage of our GDP than most other nations, including the United States, but there are many companies that don’t export at all and some of our biggest companies export a lower percentage of their output than their international rivals.  “International trade is particularly important at this time if we are to have a strong recovery.”

Mark Berrisford-Smith, a senior economist with HSBC, said Yorkshire companies should consider exporting to huge emerging economies like Brazil, India and China, which are growing “at the most fantastic rate”.

Other expanding markets include Turkey, Poland, Latin America, South East Asia, parts of Africa and the Persian Gulf, he said.  But companies should not overlook traditional export markets in the heart of the Eurozone, like Germany, he added.

Mark Vines, regional commercial director at HSBC, said: “China to me is the great opportunity.  The middle classes in China are so wealthy now and growing massively and their demand for branded goods, particularly English branded goods, is just immense.”

He said Yorkshire businesses have been through cost-cutting programmes, paid down debt and are now considering international expansion.

Rising commodity prices and fluctuating currency movements might be of concern to those considering international business, but there are ways to mitigate against these, he added.

Laurence McDougall, managing director of Thirsk-based All Steels Trading, told the audience about his international experience.  He imports steel from around the world and sells it domestically.  He said: “When we buy in foreign currency we fix the forward purchase for that currency.”  He plans to move into European markets, incentivised by the low value of the pound and advantageous logistic costs.

On the prospects for the European economy, Mr Berrisford-Smith said Europe’s leaders have to convince investors that they would not let peripheral countries default on sovereign debt.  “Europe does not need to have a debt crisis,” he said, pointing to its comparatively low budget deficit and debt burden.

A bigger potential crisis lies in America, which seems to have no deficit reduction plan, he said.  Companies with ambitions to export should consider looking for partners or joint ventures and try to get legal protection for their intellectual property rights, the audience heard.

Prices Must Rise to restore 'Sensible' Margins: UK Stockist

Steel Business briefing - Tuesday, 09 February 2010

Steel Prices need to rise as producers react to increasing input costs, according to Laurence McDougall, chairman of North East Association of Steel Stockholders (NEAS). If UK stockists are to survive and return to profitability they must not sell below replacement costs, he said to loud applause at the NEASS annual dinner attended by Steel Business Briefing on Friday (5 February).

The current demand is what it is and stockholders need to realise this and restore "sensible margins" in their sales, he continued. Other stockists corroborated this view, suggesting demand remains very weak across many sectors, and will continue to do so, which means "discipline" is vital if cost increases are to be passed on. "Pernicious selling" will only serve to undermine prices and profitability in 2010, on trader said.

The UK market for steel is about 10 million tonnes/year, half imported and half produced domestically, he noted. Stockists handle 50% of the tonnage produced by domestic mills and nearly all the imported tonnage.

NEASS raised 2600 for the charity WaterAid at the dinner in Harrogate.

Weak Pound Should Support UK Manufacturing, Stockists Told

Steel Business Briefing, Wednesday, 25th February 2009

The strength of the dollar and euro against the pound is just one reason to be cheerful regarding the UK's steel market, says John Brierley, outgoing Chairman of the North East Association of Steel Stockholders (NEASS).

This strength, which is deterring imports and making UK exports more attractive, is creating a "very good basis for manufacturing", he says. As managing director, UK & Ireland at carbon and stainless steel plate stockists Brown McFarlane he says his business is certainly seeing new jobs in the plate sector and process engineering and is starting to see some more in infrastructure.

Unlike automotive and white goods, not all UK sectors are suffering under the economic crisis, he adds. Those relating to energy, like new-build powers stations and renewables are most buoyant.

Addressing the NEASS annual dinner attended by Steel Business Briefing, he added that the UK's stockholding sector remains in the black despite dramatic declines in stock value in the second-half of 2008. "The stock write-up [in H1] is better than the subsequent write-down:" The exception, where last year's stock profits could now equal the recent losses, is strip mill products for cars and white goods.

2009 and 2010 will be poor compared to 2008, but the system's underlying strength will see the stockholding and distribution business though, he concludes.

Brierley will be succeeded as chair of NEAS by Laurence McDougall, director at Tomrods Ltd. Brierley's term as President of the National Steel Stockholders Association (NASS) continues until April 2010.

UK Stockist Keen to Know When to Expect Recovery

Steel Business Briefing, Friday, 07 November 2008

The mood was sombre at the 5 November meeting of the UK's National Association of Steel Stockholders and its northeastern division NEASS in Wakefield, with many participants painting a gloomy picture of the outlook of most steel products.

High inventories and a sudden disappearance of demand were among the most depressing factors, as attendees acknowledged the manifestation of the financial crisis on a sector which they had hoped might escape the worst.

"Virtually overnight demand has crashed," one attendee told Steel Business Briefing. "It's not a gradual slowdown as we have witnessed in the past, because of the credit crunch," he added.

With many of the world's biggest steel producers reducing output, the downturn is widespread; the question is, when will the market rebound? "Buying will resume in two months, "said NEASS vice-chairman Laurence McDougall. "In January there could even be a tight supply situation as a result of production cuts. At Tomrods we have got no availability for some of our products," he added.

Others believe the upturn will take longer to appear.  Corus has apparently told one attendee that it will take until mid-end Q2 2009 to remove surplus stock from the market. The message from the producer, he said, was that stockists "won't make money until Q3 or Q4".

UK Stockist Tomrods Makes Another Acquisition

Steel Business Briefing - Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Two UK long products stockholders have joined forces to acquire another stockist based in the West Midlands area.

In the statement sent to Steel Business Briefing Yorkshire-based Tomrods Ltd. says that, together with specialist bright bar stockist and processor Boswell Steels, it has acquired Bradley Steels Ltd, a privately owned general steel stockholding business based in Ettingshall, West Midlands. No value for the deal has been disclosed.

The acquisition takes effect from 1 June 2008, with the former owner Eric Bradley providing a consultancy service to ensure the smooth handover of the business.

Bradley Steels will continue to operate as a major supplier of merchant bar and hollow sections to consumers and stockholders in the West Midlands region. Enlargement of the business is planned though additional warehousing, improved purchasing power and access to group stocks which include medium and heavy sections.

This continues a trend of selective expansion by bar and sections specialist Tomrods, which in 2006 established All Steels Trading Ltd, followed by the 2007 acquisition of Legg Brothers, a Midlands-based re-rolling mill.

UK Stockholder Installs New Processing Equipment

Steel Business Briefing, Tuesday, 15 April 2006

Northern England-based stockholder Tomrods continues to invest in its processing facilities and has just purchased a new shot-blasting and preservation (painting) line to be installed at the companies Thirsk, North Yorkshire site.

The line will apply water-based paints and is being supplied by Dutch shot-blasting specialist Gietart Machinefabriek NV. The equipment, representing a £400,000 (€595,000) investment by Tomrods, will be installed before the end of 2006, managing director John Thompson tells Steel Business Briefing.

The company is one of the UK's largest steel stockholders and distributes over 24,000 tonnes/year of stock lengths and semi-processed steel into a range of market sectors.

A sister company All Steels Trading Ltd which, Tomrods says, buys and sells specialist parcels of steel for sale into both UK and export markets was set up in q1 2006 by Laurence McDougall; who arrived at Tomrods from Caparo as previously reported.

UK Stockist Strengthens Management with New Appointment

Steel Business Briefing Monday, 23 January 2006

UK Stockholder Tomrods Ltd based in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire has appointed a new executive director.  Managing Director John Thompson tells Steel Business Briefing that Laurence McDougall will be joining the company upon completion of his present contract.

McDougall is currently commercial director with Scunthorpe-based Caparo Trading, a company set-up in mid-2004 by Caparo plc to import those merchant bar products not produced by its UK mill Caparo Merchant Bar.  SBB understands that no successor has yet been appointed.

Thompson says that McDougall brings extensive commercial steel industry experience in both home and overseas markets to Tomrods, and that his appointment represents an important step in the company's continuity planning.  Tomrods distributes 24,000 tonnes/year of long and flat products to both UK and export markets.