Express & Star

Mixed fortunes for steel workers as 173 jobs saved in Willenhall but 45 lost in Dudley

A steel business in Willenhall has been bought out of administration saving 173 jobs.

Last updated
Aartee Bright Bar

However, the deal for Aartee Bright Bar in Planetary Road does not cover Aartee's hot rolled bars division in Peartree Lane, Dudley, where 45 will be made redundant and the site will be wound up and closed.

Aartee Bright Bar and Aartee Bight Bar Property have been sold to Bradford-based Barrett Steel for £13 million.

The joint administrators to the two companies Michael Magnay, Richard Fleming and Gemma Quinn of leading professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal Europe said the sale covered the majority of the business and assets of the companies which supply engineering grade steel bars to manufacturers in the UK and internationally.

Barrett Steel is the UK’s largest independent steel stockholder, comprising 44 companies across general steels, engineering steels, tubes and international services. It includes Barrett Precision Tubes and Barrett Engineering Steel at Autobase Industrial Park, Tipton Road, Tividale, and Central Steel Services, Corngreaves Trading Estate, Cradley Heath.

The acquisition includes Aartee Bright Bar’s distribution business located in Rugby, Bolton, Newport and Southampton, and the Willenhall site, as well as Aartee Bright Bar Property’s freehold and leasehold interests at these sites.

Mr Magnay, managing director at Alvarez & Marsal, said: “This substantial investment from Barrett Steel is a vote of confidence in the business and the wider UK steel industry. The companies’ creditors will now receive a substantial dividend and will have the opportunity to trade with the new business going forward.

"We are grateful to the employees and creditors for their support and understanding during this process, and to Barrett Steel for its commitment to the deal.”

Marcus Tyldsley, chief financial officer at Barrett Steel, said: “We're delighted to share that we're acquiring a new business as part of our ongoing expansion strategy. Our focus is on delivering exceptional service to our customers, and we're confident that this acquisition will help us achieve that goal.

"As new owners, we'll prioritise the safety and wellbeing of our employees, and work collaboratively with our new team to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the table. We're excited to welcome our new colleagues to the Barrett Steel family and look forward to a successful future together.”

GFG Alliance, which includes Liberty Steel Group, has last month announced it was buying Aartee Bright Bar.

Jeffrey Kabel, chief transformation officer at GFG, said: “GFG Alliance fought hard to rescue Aartee Bright Bar and the 250 steel workers it employs across the UK after it was unnecessarily plunged into administration several weeks ago. Since that point GFG has provided £650,000 to shield employees from redundancy while a rescue plan could be negotiated.

"Today the administrators have decided against GFG’s business plan which would have rescued ABB in its entirety, saved all its 250 employees and ensured its continuation as a going concern. Within hours of this development we’ve witnessed the devastating impact of the decision with the announcement of immediate lay offs of all employees at ABB's steel plant in Dudley.

“We struggle to see the logic in this outcome which has put short term gain for a selected few ahead of the long-term interest of the UK steel industry and its workforce.”

A bid by GFG to overturn the appointment of administrators for Willenhall-based Aartee Bright Bar was dismissed by the High Court.

ABB was a customer of Liberty Steel.