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Laser leader cuts through uncertainty by investing in future

By Simon Penfold | Business | Published:

The managing director of one of a leading laser cutting services says an ongoing investment in equipment and people will ensure a brighter future for the business and its clients when industry uncertainty starts to clear.

Staffordshire-based SSC Laser, which is on target to create a £50m business by 2025, has three manufacturing sites in Stafford, Derby and Bristol along with a sales presence in Canterbury, Beaconsfield and Motherwell.

SSC Laser MD Andy Evans believes now, during a time of uncertainty around Brexit and steel tariffs on US imports, is the time “to be brave, bold and positive” by investing for the good of the business and its clients.

Mr Evans believes the country’s steel industry has been damaged by the steel tariffs on US imports imposed by President Donald Trump combined with ongoing uncertainty around free trade in the fall-out from Brexit.

But he is forecasting a better future and insists it is imperative businesses such as SSC Laser prepare now to grasp the nettle when the good times return.

SSC has recently invested in new laser profiling technology to increase production capacity, installing a new Bystronic 10kW fibre flatbed laser.

The firm has further invested in the recruitment of senior sales staff to build on the firm’s 20% year-on-year growth since 2005.

Mr Evans said: “We’re following a road map that will result in the company becoming a £50m business by 2025.

“We’ve set ourselves a big target of 30% growth this year. We’ve invested in new laser technology to add capacity and we’ve been on a big recruitment campaign, adding significant capacity to our sales department.

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“What we’ve done is shown the vision to invest in the future and in the present. When there’s uncertainty in the market, as there is now, we do find some projects are put on hold or have very quick turnaround times.

“Investing in more sales staff and new capacity has put SSC in the perfect place to provide speedy quotes and to turn jobs around quickly, while also putting us in a much stronger position when more certain times return, as they will sooner or later.

“There is no doubt that the US steel tariffs and the uncertainty around Brexit-related trade deals are affecting the pace of our growth but we’re confident about the future. We will continue with our ambitious growth plans whilst controlling our costs.”

Despite concerns about the depleted UK steel industry taking a further hit from President Trump’s steel tariffs on US imports, Mr Evans believes the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit and free trade deals can be equally damaging.

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He is calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to agree deals sooner rather than later. “I believe the continuing uncertainties around the free trade questions relating to Brexit are causing real uncertainty in the UK,” he said.

“All our market sectors are being affected and there is a visible slowdown in trading conditions compared to this time last year. On top of this, we now have the US steel tariffs.

“I’ve discussed this at length with a number of our customers. They experienced recovery and growth in 2017, but their collective opinion is that 2018 has become a challenge.

“The Brexit issue along with Mr Trump’s tariffs are holding us all back.

“Mrs May needs to get the trade deal done quickly to kick-start our economy again.”

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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