Rising imports are affecting steel production, company chief executive warns

Tata Steel, Brenda Road, Hartlepool. Picture By FRANK REID
Tata Steel, Brenda Road, Hartlepool. Picture By FRANK REID

STEEL chiefs have reported improved results in their European markets – but they are still facing challenges from rival importers.

Tata Steel, which has mills in Brenda Road, Hartlepool, has announced its results for the first half of its financial year and the quarter which ended on September 30, this year.

They show the European arm maintained its year-on-year improvement in financial performance which was established in the first quarter.

Production stayed virtually the same while turnover increased by three per cent.

Karl Koehler, the chief executive of Tata Steel’s European operations, said the financial performance “continues to build on the progress we’ve made so far”.

But he warned of the need to combat the twin challenges of sluggish European economic growth and rising imports.

Mr Koehler said: “There are headwinds constraining steel demand growth globally and in Europe, and we are increasingly concerned about the impact of rising imports on EU steelmakers, particularly from China, which is responsible for most of the additional imports.”

He also spoke about the effect that a possible sale of part of the Tata Steel operation could have.

Tata is negotiating for the potential sale of its Long Products Europe business where 6,500 people work. That will not affect Tata Steel’s Hartlepool mills which are part of the separate tubes division.

Mr Koehler said: “The potential sale of our Long Products Europe business and its associated distribution facilities would enable us to devote greater resources to pursuing our focus on high-value strip steel customers. We will treat affected employees fairly and with respect throughout the due diligence process, and will consult fully with their representatives.”

The giant company employs 30,500 people across Europe, and 17,500 of those workers are based at locations in the UK.