Prime Minister visits 200-year-old engineering specialist

Published: 12 May 2009

Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a special visit to Sheffield Forgemasters to recognise the company's success in training apprentices, international trade development and its future investment programme.

The PM, accompanied by the MP for Central Sheffield, Richard Caborn, met with directors at Forgemasters to see at first hand its global business presence, skilled workforce and multi-million pound expansion plans.

Mr Brown then toured the 64-acre site on Brightside Lane to see the state-of-the-art production processes which keep Forgemasters at the forefront of global engineering for the power generation and offshore industries.

Chief executive, Graham Honeyman, said: "Forgemasters has a long and crucial history in providing key components for the country's defence industry, including the manufacture of specialist forgings and castings for the British and US navies, and is a large exporter that continues to provide valuable jobs through the current economic downturn.

"Mr Brown's tour of the site allowed him to see the scale of what we are doing here and he met numerous apprentices, which is obviously a very important element of British manufacturing and one that will help secure the UK's future skills base."

The Prime Minister spoke to apprentices and management throughout the tour to gain an in-depth understanding of the company's business strategy and turnaround following a management buyout in 2005.

The company is currently looking at funding streams for a 15,000 tonne open-die forging press which would enable it to produce 100 per cent of the forgings required for the UK's own nuclear power programme and also tap into global demand for these large components.

Gordon Brown said: "Here in Sheffield we have got high quality steel and investment that has taken place for the future.
"We want to be able to support a company which is dynamic, moving forward, and one of our biggest export companies.

"Of course there is a future for steel in Sheffield. We are determined to do what we can to support the people here who brought this industry back."

Forgemasters is currently winning global civil nuclear power contracts in countries including China, America, Canada and Argentina.

Currently Forgemasters employs 809 staff - an increase of more than 200 since the management buyout in 2005.