Tomrods and All Steels Owners Buy Steel Ball Producer

Steel Business Briefing, Monday, 21 March 2011

Laurence McDougall and John Thompson, owners of UK steel companies All Steels Trading, Tomrods, Bradley Steels and Legg Brothers, have bought ball manufacturer Helipebs in conjunction with John Wraith, a former Caparo main board director.

McDougall, Thompson and Wraith will each own a third of the Gloucestershire-based company, which has been renamed The Steel Ball Company.

The Steel Ball Company manufactures forged steel balls from 25mm to 75mm in diameter for use as grinding media in mining, mining processing and cement manufacturing.  It can produce around 20,000 tonnes/year using hot rolled round bars as its raw material.  One of the company's main customers is a gold mine in Africa, Steel Business Briefing understands.

McDougall says The Steel Ball Company has good synergies with Legg Brothers, the special section re-rolling mill that is already a bulk buyer of round bar feedstock.

All Steels Reaps Rewards

Steel Business Briefing Tuesday, 16th November 2010

Thirsk Based All Steels Trading is looking to expand its business further afield, it tells Steel Business Briefing.  The company currently sells around 50,000 tonnes/year and aims to double this to 100,000/year over the next 2-3 years.

It plans to send steel into Scandinavia, Benelux and Germany and France, as well as its current business in the UK and Ireland. Mexico is also an attractive import opportunity because of its comparatively low wages and manufacturing costs, according to MD Laurence McDougall.

"Mexico is undoubtedly one of the hotspots for strong economic growth... It is fundamental that our nation makes a deliberate entry into countries like Mexico through acquisition, partnerships or even through new start-up ventures," he says. "All Steels Trading will be exploring all such opportunities."

As a result of its plans, All Steels has won the regional (north east) final of the HSBC Business Thinking Competition, including a prize of £100,000 and £5m of free trade finance over a 3-year period. The company will also be entered into the UK finals to be held in Hong Kong in December.

All Steels sources material globally, selling forward half of the steel arriving dockside, and expects turnover to double to around £33 million this year.  It is the sister company of Thirsk-based stockist Tomrods, SBB notes.  

Broader Economy Encouraging for UK Steel Sector

Steel Business Briefing, Thursday, 04 November 2010

Despite the UK steel industry suffering from weak demand and a "pedestrian" recovery, the broader economic picture is encouraging, local market sources tell Steel Business Briefing.

"Every fourth quarter we go into a seasonal downturn. I think there's a lot of negativity out there at the moment in terms of demand," says Laurence McDougall, outgoing chairman of the North East Association of Steel Stockholders (NEASS). "But the macroeconomic picture is very strong. The volume of steel in the supply chain is very low and iron ore and scrap prices are going to rise," he adds.

"Globally the recovery has happened. We're now way beyond where the 2007 level of demand was, and that should have an impact on raw materials prices," adds Richard White, chief executive of the Iron & Steel Statistics Bureau. The pressure on raw material processes should filter through into product prices in the longer-term, sources suggest.

Prices in emerging economies, such as India and China, have been resilient of late despite the slowdown in Europe and other developed regions. And if seaborne iron ore is a good indicator of economic activity and the steel market in general, Chinese demand pushing trade to 1 billion tonnes and upwards is good news.

While this year may end on a relatively muted note, in terms of prices and the UK steel market in general, the first quarter of next year could see an upturn, some sources agree.  

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.