Cook boss vindicated over £8m investment
A new foundry which safeguarded 300 Sheffield steelworkers’ jobs is profitable, justifying an £8m investment, according to boss Sir Andrew Cook.
The success of the Precision Foundry marks the end of a fouryear plan to save the Sheffield operations of William Cook Cast Products after the catastrophic oil price crash of 2013.
The experience has been bittersweet. It cost £8m of family money and many sleepless nights and, he believes, if it were almost any other company, he would have been sacked.
Sir Andrew said: “It was only heart that kept it going. There was no compelling business case. There was serious doubt in my mind for six months.
“Then for two years building this new factory, worrying it was the right decision.
“But this is my life’s work. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I’d closed it.”
Sir Andrew is sixth generation, inspiring a long-term view and much pride. Certainly the alternative – being the Cook who sold up – had no appeal.
In March 2017, the firm opened a £6m facility at its Parkway Avenue site. Premises at Halfway were closed and workers brought over, with no compulsory redundancies, Sir Andrew said.
“It’s taken time to bed down. It was quite a shock for workers, there was a lot of change and new processes. It took out some of the order book. But it’s now at a point of stability and rhythm, it’s profitable enough to justify the huge amount spent on it.”