300 steel jobs promised as Liberty signs on the dotted line

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International industrials group Liberty House is set to create 300 jobs and invest millions of pounds as it completes the £100m deal for Tata Steel’s speciality business.

Liberty has officially taken control of the former Tata business today, securing 1,700 jobs across its operations.

The speciality steels business operates 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.

Expansion plans and multi-million pound investments across the sites are expected to create a further 300 jobs.

Liberty said it would invest up to £20m in new plant and equipment in the first year “to boost competitiveness and secure international market leadership for the business”. Output will be increased at its electric arc furnaces, casting shop and bar mill in Rotherham, to more than 1 million tonnes per year.

The company will be relaunched as Liberty Speciality Steels.

Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House said: “The Speciality Steels business is a global leader in its field, with a highly-skilled and well-motivated workforce and we are eager to invest so it can grow and achieve its full potential.

“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.”

“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 added.

Jon Bolton, who has been appointed chief executive of Liberty Speciality Steels, explained that the business already had a strong market reputation thanks to a combination of advanced equipment capability and a skilled and motivated workforce. He said: “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.”

He added: “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 steelmaking 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.

Welcoming the news that Libert planned to expand the business,Unite national officer Tony Brady said: “This announcement brings an end to months of agonising uncertainty for Tata’s steel workers in the speciality steel business.

“This is a workforce which has done everything asked of them over the last few years to give speciality steelmaking a fighting chance in the UK. Liberty House’s commitments on jobs and new investment are a welcome recognition of the skills of a dedicated workforce.

“We look forward to forging a strong relationship with Liberty House and working together to secure a bright future for speciality steelworkers and their communities.”