News - 01 June 2022

British steel manufacturer safeguards their future with support from the Manufacturing Growth Programme

High Peak Steels Limited was set-up in 1985 by husband-and-wife Mark and Anne Thornley who saw a gap in the market to provide excellence in service for steel bar to UK companies.

The business also offers saw cutting, grinding and heat-treating products to customers specifications from their site in Glossop, Derbyshire. 99% of their clients are UK based and they currently have a turnover £9.8m, employing 28 staff.

Whilst the last few years have been challenging dealing with COVID-19 and Brexit (and losing over 60% of turnover overnight), they have been able to manage their costs and make savings coming out of lockdowns which resulted in an increase in their net profit by 5% from the previous year. To help them with these challenges, Mark and Anne engaged with the Manufacturing Growth Programme to empower them to overcome hurdles and gain momentum.

Through the programme, the business was able to work with a business specialist and access grant funding towards the cost of an improvement project to conduct global research of the best raw material suppliers for bright and black engineering steels. The project’s purpose was to identify a short list of suppliers which met their criteria with a view to establishing long term relationships for the supply of steel bars to the UK.

Mark Taft, Manufacturing Growth Manager for MGP stated, “It has been great to be involved in working with Mark and Anne Thornley who have had to pivot the business during the COVID period and challenges with the fallout of Brexit and still they have managed to turn a profit through all the turbulence. With the research and new connections created through the business improvement work supported through MGP, this will hopefully give them a springboard to capitalise on the opportunity in the market in rebuilding the business and increasing their turnover, profitability and creating more jobs for the local community.”

Managing Director, Mark Thornley commented, “It’s well worth the time and effort to continually be looking for different ways to stay ahead of our competitors, we are looking down on the business, rather than being too involved in it.

“The demand on our team is significant and we have made two new appointments in the past few months, with an expectation this will increase. We have also appointed four of our team, including son, Josh Thornley, to our senior management team as part of the plans for further growth.”

“With the demand for more cut steel, we recently made a further investment in saws, this will take the small cut work away from the large machines. Also, to keep up with demand we have purchased two additional wagons for our fleet, helping to ensure we’re delivering on time. We use one of the vehicles as a trunking vehicle from the ports to enhance lead times.”

Future plans for the business include building upon their new introductions as alternative suppliers to deliver to their customers, which will increase their turnover, profitability and credibility as a supplier.  The business will also be researching a new CRM system to enhance their customer experience.

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The Manufacturing Growth Programme

The Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and designed and delivered by Oxford Innovation Advice, has delivered more than eighty strategic reviews to firms in the region – despite being in the midst of the pandemic.

Specialist assistance from dedicated Manufacturing Growth Managers has helped companies to improve quality performance, access new markets, develop new products and address environmental concerns.

In a deal agreed with D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, more than £130,000 of grants have been given out and this has been matched with £260,000 of private sector investment as manufacturing SMEs begin to bounce back from the effects of Covid-19.

Encouragingly, management teams still have until December 2022 to tap into MGP and make the most of a further £360,000 of support.

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