180 year-old steel firm combats downturn with £20m investment

William Cook's Sheffield foundry

Steel castings specialist William Cook is combatting a “disappointing” performance by investing millions of pounds in factory improvements.

In its latest accounts published last week, William Cook Holdings reported revenues of £51.7m for the year to July 2016, a drop on £64.8m the year before.

Pre-tax profits dropped to £1.8m from £2.1m in 2015.

The Sheffield-based company said that its operating performance was negatively affected by the collapse in mineral and oil prices, as well as “the rise of China as an industrial superpower” which was also facing a downturn, to which the effects of Brexit have added.

William Cook said it had decided to embark on a £20m overhaul of its facilities in the Leeds, Stanhope and Sheffield to combat this downturn.

The company said the investment would “provide a strong foundation for future stability and growth.”

William Cook said that its five-year project, which included the £11m modernisation of its Leeds foundry and machine shop, constructing a new £3m machine shop at Stanhope, and the relocating of its Precision foundry at the Parkway site in Sheffield for £6m, was nearing completion.

In addition, has reinforced its design and R&D facilities to support the high-technology products and markets on which it is now focused.

Chairman Sir Andrew Cook commented: “The international economic environment is increasingly uncertain but I am confident that our newly-enhanced capabilities are second to none and our long-term prospects are encouraging.”