Major investments in Sheffield manufacturing announced

16th June 2014

Sheffield is a city famous the world over for its steel making.

It was here, one hundred and one years ago, that stainless steel was invented. The city's reputation as a centre of steel production may have faded over the last few decades, but there are now signs of renewed investment in Sheffield engineering, with multi-million pound investments in a number of new facilities and one of the city's best-known manufacturers being purchased in an investment-heavy deal. Spear & Jackson, a Sheffield based manufacturer that has been producing a range of steel products for more than two and a half centuries, has been bought from United Pacific Industries by a Hong Kong consortium led by Simon Hsu. The £15m deal will see renewed investment in the company, which employs around two hundred people in the city. While only 35 of its locally based staff are employed in the direct manufacture of Spear & Jackson products, a renewed interest in British manufacturing both within the United Kingdom and abroad could potentially see that number rise. Perhaps more significant for Sheffield's manufacturing and engineering sector is the announcement of a £45m investment in the city from the engine manufacturer Rolls Royce and other advanced manufacturers. Announced by the Deputy Prime Minister, Sheffield MP Nick Clegg, the investment will see the global aviation giant team up with Sheffield University to develop new British technology for the sector. The University's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has already played an important part in the opening of the Rolls Royce's new Washington factory. While Sheffield has traditionally been known for its steelwork, the objective of this new research investment is to develop low-carbon engines for future aircraft. The engineering giant's relationship with the University of Sheffield will be received with enthusiasm by the city's manufacturing sector, which looks set to see a growth in activity as the wider UK economy rebalances in its favour. In fact, these investments are part of a wider trend that is similarly encouraging. Bam Construction, a London based company describing itself as providing a comprehensive service in -construction, property development, design, services engineering, facilities management and plant hire has announced plans for a £25m factory in Airedale and office in Hiscox to replace its old Leeds facilities, which were damaged last year in a fire that attracted national headlines. Not long ago, the same company completed the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield which is now seeing investment from Rolls Royce and other industry partners. Despite these sizeable investments, the city's manufacturing and engineering industries face a number of challenges. The 'Sheffield' brand has failed to sustain itself over recent decades and this trend will require a concerted effort to reverse. There is also a concern that much of the investment is targeted at the research and development phase. A challenge in the years to come will be to see this R&D transition successfully into city-based manufacturing and industrial growth. If that can be achieved, and there is no obvious reason why it cannot be, the future for Sheffield's manufacturers could start to look very bring indeed.

You might also be interested in

Shortlist Announced for Sheffield Business Awards 2024

Thu 25th July 2024

The shortlist has been announced for this year’s prestigious Sheffield Business Awards, which returns for its 23rd year this October.

Local Businesses List Cleanliness, Safety and Retail As Their Top Priorities For Improvement in South Yorkshire’s Civic Centres

Mon 8th July 2024

Safety, cleanliness and the quality of retail have all been cited by South Yorkshire businesses as top priorities for their local urban cores. This is according to the recently-published findings of the Town and City Centre Survey.

BCC Quarterly Economic Survey: Business Confidence Continues To Tick Up in Q2

Mon 8th July 2024

The BCC’s Quarterly Economic Survey – the UK’s largest and longest-running independent business survey – shows measures of business confidence and business conditions slightly improved in Q2 2024, albeit from a very low base.

Bank Seeks Further Evidence Before Rate Cut

Mon 1st July 2024

David Bharier, Head of Research at the British Chambers of Commerce reacts to the Bank of England’s latest interest rate decision