Steelwork crisis deepens as another firm fails

Aaron Morby 14 years ago
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North east contractor F J Booth has become the latest victim in a string of company failures that has rocked the steelwork sector.

Partners at Deloitte have formally placed the Middlesbrough business into administration and now aim to sell the 3,000 sq m factory in South Bank.

Suicide bidding has been rife in the steelwork market for more than a year and leading firms have warned that current pricing levels for steelwork are unsustainable.

In the last month, Midlands Steel Structures and D A Green have collapsed. In the Merseyside region Royden Steel failed but was later resurrected as Royden Structures, while in Derby contractor Robinson has been put up for sale.

The spate of failures is starting to echo the nineties recession, which saw just four of the top 10 firms emerge unscathed from the downturn.

Several months ago sector giant Severfield Rowen predicted that the market would see significant rationalisation.

Tom Haughey, Severfield chief executive. said: “The UK structural steelwork sector in now likely to see substantial rationalisation in the next 12 months, leading ultimately to a more balanced supply and demand equation.

Another contractor told the Enquirer: “We all feel like we are sitting around the guillotine watching firms lining up for chop.

“Nobody wishes it on a rival because a lot of people are losing their jobs, but it is the inevitable consequence of ridiculous pricing levels.

He added: “Things are so bad you can see why some directors are prepared to shut up shop, sell the factory equipment to China and the site for a new Tesco superstore.”

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