British Steel names new chief executive to lead turnaround
17 February 2017 • 11:07am
British Steel - the company reborn when Tata sold off its Scunthorpe plant - has appointed a chief executive officer to head the business. Peter Bernscher will join the privately owned company in May, gradually taking over day-to-day control from executive chairman Roland Junck, who will give up some of his duties. Mr Bernscher is a 30-year veteran of the industry and currently works for Austrian steel and industrials group business Voestalpine as an executive board member of the company’s metal forming division. British Steel was brought back to life in April last year when turnaround fund Greybull bought Tata’s “long products” division - which makes steel rails and construction beams - for a symbolic £1.
The British Steel name disappeared almost 20 years ago when the business merged with a Dutch peer to form Corus, which was bought by Tata a decade ago. Greybull revealed a £400m investment package that was intended to turn around the troubled business, which Tata had been trying to sell for several years. The deal saved about 4,000 jobs, which had been hanging in the balance amid fears the plant could be shut down if no buyer was found. In a recent interview with the Telegraph, Mr Junck described how he found the Scunthorpe-based business to be “unloved” by its previous owners but said he saw huge potential in it.
In January British Steel updated on its performance, saying that it had ended the third quarter in profit and was heading for annual revenues of £1.2bn, having won significant contracts at home and abroad, including supplying steel for the construction of Hinkley Point nuclear plant and rails for the Algerian and Italian train networks. Mr Bernscher, 48, said: “I’m immensely impressed with the turnaround the business has made in the past 12 months – the change in results and in the way the business is now operating makes me excited about what lies ahead. “The British Steel brand also attracted me to the position – it brings strength from its heritage but also a fresh approach and will be a great asset in helping the business to be successful in both domestic and international markets.”