Investment planned for SSI as chief steps down

Steel manufacturers promises more jobs and output under new management

SSI UK’s renowned chief executive, Phil Dryden, may be stepping down, but the steel manufacturer has promised more jobs, investment and output under new management.

Dryden, considered a leading figure in the rebirth of steel making on Tyneside, will leave the Redcar plant on December 31, as the Thai company’s overall chief executive Win Viriyaprapaikit takes over at the helm.

Yesterday, the pair confirmed there would be no more “toys” to commission in the next 12 months on Teesside, following a year that saw the £38m Pulverised Coal Injection (PCI) facility come online to cut costs and ramp up production. However, there was good news in the pipeline, Viriyaprapaikit added.

“Some of the ideas being developed for Teesside are at an advanced stage already,” he said.

“We have to make the steelworks more competitive and meaningful, make better products in a more cost-competitive way and offer better service. This is the only way to survive in the global market.

“We will increase production and investments – some will be new investments, some will be delivered quickly and some will take more time. Some are not just assets but people and the operations systems.”

He added that while he would be spending more time at the plant, the “strong management team” Dryden had built would take more responsibility and make sure the business was ready for the next challenge.

Dryden was once a key negotiator in attempts to find a new owner for the former Teesside Cast Products business, following the loss of 1,700 jobs in 2009. In 2011, he returned following the deal with SSI, when he was challenged with the remit of nursing the plant back to life.

Speaking yesterday, Dryden, who will take on a consultancy role with SSI until March, said: “If the party is about the excitement of starting a steelworks up, then the party’s over.

“It’s domestic chores now – everything that has to happen in a business day – polishing, refining and stabilising. This business has to be integrated into the wider SSI business – it’s the right time.

“There will be no new toys that will be commissioned in the next 12 months. The next thing is to keep it bright and shiny, and always trying to improve. If you don’t, then you’re standing still – and the rest of the world will eat your lunch.”

Viriyaprapaikit, he added was an “incredibly entrepreneurial and creative person” with some fantastic ideas that would make the business “top draw and able to compete with anybody”.

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