27 Nov 2017

Increasing our geographic footprint

Many people see steel markets as mature and slow moving, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Think of the technological changes in car industry and the current debate about electronic vehicles.

These technological changes are more than matched by changes in the geography of where steel is used. In 1990 China produced 2 million motor vehicles; by 2016 this had risen to over 28 million. The developments in China have been mirrored on a smaller scale in parts of Eastern Europe, Mexico, India and other Asian markets.

Business Development Manager Clare Hanna said: "Our Wire Rod business is well positioned to take on the challenges these changes open up. Last year the company supplied wire rod to customers in 37 different countries. This demonstrates not just the capability to meet diverse technical requirements but also the ability to put in place the whole service package and logistics to deliver wire rod with care and in a timely manner over long distances."

At the beginning, the process starts with the marketing team identifying new markets to investigate further and potential customers to approach. While some companies may be totally new to us, others are familiar faces. Recent visits by the UK team have included attending trade fairs and visiting new potential customers in Turkey, Mexico, South Korea and China.

Clare said: “We’ve seen some of our existing customers setting up plants in countries such as Slovakia, Russia and Mexico, often to supply the growing automotive sectors in those countries. Companies are often keen to have a supplier they know to support them in a new market. It removes one element of risk.”

Through our sales offices and our extensive network of local agents, we’re able to hear from new customers first-hand about what they need and set out what we can offer. The sales and technical teams then work with the customers to agree specifications and conduct trials.

Bruce Jones, Technical Account Manager, said: “The specifications and service requirements of our customers in the fast developing economies are as demanding as those in more established markets.”

As a business we often learn and improve from demands of new markets and it’s a good opportunity to benchmark ourselves against different standards.