More than 170 jobs saved as steel supplier acquired for £13m

Aartee Bright Bar, Willenhall. Credit: Google Earth

Entities of steel supplier Aartee Bright Bar have been acquired out of administration for £13m, saving 173 jobs.

The acquisition by Barrett Steel, encompasses Aartee Bright Bar Limited’s distribution business, located in Rugby, Bolton, Newport and Southampton, and its Bright Bar business operating out of Willenhall, as well as Aartee Bright Bar Property Limited’s freehold and leasehold interests at these sites.

However, Aartee Bright Bar Limited’s Hot Rolled business in Dudley is not included in the transaction and will now be wound up, leading to 45 redundancies and the closure of the site.

Bradford-based firm is one of the UK’s largest independent steel stockholder, comprising 44 companies across general steels, engineering steels, tubes and international services.

GFG Alliance, owned by steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta had been in court trying to overturn the administration of Aartee Bright Bar. Its challenge was rejected by the high Court in Manchester and Aartee was placed into voluntary liquidation, allowing a sale to take place.

The firm claims that Willenhall-based Aartee was “wrongly” put into administration by its main creditor FGI, who appointed Alvarez & Marsal to handle the insolvency process.

GFG planned to integrate Aartee’s operations into its Liberty Steel brand to save 250 viable UK steel jobs.

Following the acquisition of Aartee Bright Bar by Barrett Steel, Jeffrey Kabel, chief transformation officer at GFG Alliance told that:

“GFG Alliance fought hard to rescue Aartee Bright Bar (ABB) and the 250 steelworkers it employs across the UK after it was unnecessarily plunged into administration several weeks ago. Since that point GFG has provided £650,000 to shield employees from redundancy while a rescue plan could be negotiated.

“Today the administrators have decided against GFG’s business plan which would have rescued ABB in its entirety, saved all its 250 employees and ensured its continuation as a going concern. Within hours of this development we’ve witnessed the devastating impact of the decision with the announcement of immediate layoffs of all employees at ABB’s steel plant in Dudley.

“We struggle to see the logic in this outcome which has put short term gain for a selected few ahead of the long-term interest of the UK steel industry and its workforce.”

Michael Magnay, managing director at Alvarez & Marsal, said: “This substantial investment from Barrett Steel is a vote of confidence in the business and the wider UK steel industry.

“The Companies’ creditors will now receive a substantial dividend and will have the opportunity to trade with the new business going forward”.

Marcus Tyldsley, chief financial officer at Barrett Steel said: “We’re delighted to share that we’re acquiring a new business as part of our ongoing expansion strategy. Our focus is on delivering exceptional service to our customers, and we’re confident that this acquisition will help us achieve that goal.

“As new owners, we’ll prioritise the safety and wellbeing of our employees, and work collaboratively with our new team to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the table. We’re excited to welcome our new colleagues to the Barrett Steel family and look forward to a successful future together.”