IoD chief economist visits Sheffield Forgemasters

Published: 10 April 2017

THE IoD’s chief economist translated words to action when he visited Sheffield Forgemasters on a fact finding mission.

And he pledged further support for the South Yorkshire industrial giant after discussing with the management team the issues and challenges they face growing the business in a still difficult climate for manufacturers.

James Sproule met Sheffield Forgemasters' chief executive Dr Graham Honeyman and chief financial officer Neil Maskrey after addressing the Yorkshire IoD annual Director of the Year Awards.

Accompanying him was Caleb Deeks, the deputy director for growth and productivity at HM Treasury. It was during a regular IoD briefing that HM Treasury expressed a wish to visit some real businesses.

They toured the steelworks and spoke to staff about the products and processes used and heard how the company was set up and run.

Passionate about boosting business in the growth, specifically exporting, Mr Sproule agreed it was vital that the business voice was heard, and listened to, by decision makers.

He said: “For any policy maker, or anyone interested and advocating political or economic policies, there is absolutely no substitute to seeing and meeting businesses people. The complexity of the projects Sheffield Forgemasters undertake, the skill with which it undertakes them, and the evident pride they have in their products, were all remarkable.

“To be able to come along to Sheffield Forgemasters and see first-hand not only a major exporter, but to learn about the difficulties that companies face in their business, was extremely valuable,” said Mr Sproule.

Dr Honeyman told them energy was still a key issue despite the recent announcement in the Budget, while skills always presented challenges.

“What this company does not lack is initiative and innovation. Where businesses like this hope to see positive change at central government level is in regard to a cohesive strategy on the UK's energy security and pricing, and positive steps to ensure that school leavers are equipped with the rights skills to undertake career development.” said Dr Honeyman.