Hill­foot looks to for­eign mar­kets

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN GRAINGER BUSI­NESS RE­PORTER Email: john.grainger@ypn.co.uk Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

EX­PAN­SION: Hill­foot is look­ing to ex­pand into new ex­port mar­kets in 2018, as it gears up for “ex­cit­ing times” with three new se­nior ap­point­ments.

The en­gi­neer­ing steel sup­plier is one of the largest stock­hold­ers in the UK mar­ket and for the last 12 months has been led by former Tata ex­ec­u­tive Ian Bev­eridge.

SH­EFFIELD’S HILL­FOOT is look­ing to ex­pand into new ex­port mar­kets in 2018, as it gears up for “ex­cit­ing times” with three new se­nior ap­point­ments.

The en­gi­neer­ing steel sup­plier is one of the largest stock­hold­ers in the UK mar­ket and for the last 12 months has been led by former Tata ex­ec­u­tive Ian Bev­eridge.

Now, Craig James be­comes man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, con­tin­u­ing his long as­so­ci­a­tion with the com­pany.

He joined Hill­foot in 1994 and has been in­stru­men­tal in the growth of its client base and de­vel­op­ment of its wide-rang­ing

The ser­vices op­er­a­tion. He told York­shire Post

that his ap­proach would build on, rather than con­trast with, that of Mr Bev­eridge, who will re­main on a part-time con­sul­tancy ba­sis.

“My fo­cus will be on cus­tomer re­ten­tion and cus­tomer growth,” he said. “We will al­ways have a foothold in spot [one-off] and trans­ac­tional mar­kets, but we need to de­velop our con­trac­tual busi­ness and long-term re­la­tion­ships, and that where’s my ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise will really come in.”

He added: “Our in­dus­try has had some des­per­ate times over the last 10 years, but there’s been a steady­ing of the mar­ket from both the de­mand and prices point of view, and we’re very much in a pos­i­tive frame of mind now.”

One area that Mr James in­tends to grow is ex­port sales. They cur­rently ac­count for just 4.9 per cent of Hill­foot’s to­tal turnover, but Mr James would like to in­crease this fig­ure to 15 or 20 per cent within the next two years.

“When the oil and gas mar­kets were stronger, it was about 15 per cent, but we got dis­tracted to a de­gree by hav­ing to sta­bilise our UK mar­ket.

“But now we want to get back into the ex­port mar­kets, in part to re­duce our ex­po­sure to the UK mar­ket,” he said.

The com­pany, which em­ploys 52 peo­ple, is strong­est ins what Mr James calls the “lo­cal ex­port mar­kets” – Czech Repub­lic, Poland, Spain, Ger­many, Ire­land – but is try­ing hard to de­velop its pres­ence in the Far East, via op­er­a­tions in Sin­ga­pore and Korea, and is look­ing at the Aus­tralasian mar­ket.

“We tend to find there is a de­mand for Bri­tish sup­ply, be­cause it’s trusted and qual­ity-driven,” he said.

“Equally, there’s in­se­cu­rity in the Far Eastern mar­kets so they come to Euro­pean, and es­pe­cially UK, com­pa­nies be­cause they know they’ll get what they ask for. And it’s the same with the Mid­dle Eastern mar­kets.”

Also pro­moted is Si­mon Tay­lor, another long-serv­ing mem­ber of the team, who be­comes ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

Mr Tay­lor re­turned to the com­pany for a sec­ond spell in 2009 and has since over­seen its pur­chas­ing op­er­a­tion. In do­ing so, he has built a ro­bust sup­ply net­work of spe­cial­ist steel pro­duc­ers around the world, en­abling Hill­foot to sup­ply the high-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als de­manded by the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor.

Ka­sia Je­si­olek steps up to be­come Hill­foot’s new tech­ni­cal and qual­ity man­ager.

Since join­ing the com­pany in 2009 Ms Je­si­olek has pro­vided in-depth tech­ni­cal ad­vice to cus­tomers, help­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers to achieve cost and ef­fi­ciency sav­ings.

Mr James said: “It’s an ex­cit­ing time for Hill­foot and th­ese changes will help us to con­tinue grow­ing.”

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