Bridgnorth Aluminium

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Bridgnorth Aluminium's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Bridgnorth Aluminium is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Simon MacVicker, managing
Fully automated aluminium
coil storage system
Bridgnorth Aluminium Ltd is the UK’s only aluminium rolling
mill that manufactures coils. Their key markets are the
graphic arts sector, where their material is transformed
into printing plates for the offset printing industry, packaging,
where their material is rolled into thin foil for food and
pharmaceutical packaging, and the automotive and electrical
industries. They operate an integrated plant on one site in
Bridgnorth, Shropshire. On this site is included a casthouse,
hot and cold rolling and finishing lines. Managing director,
Simon MacVicker, explains how they have grown to be an
internationally recognised manufacturer.
Bridgnorth Aluminium was established in 2001 when Elval SA of Greece, a
subsidiary of Viohalco, acquired the casthouse, hot rolling and lithographic assets
from Alcan. The Bridgnorth site had previously been established in 1956 under the
ownership of Alusuisse.
The Viohalco ownership of the site brought with it strong development of the
company. Within months of the acquisition, a decision was made to modernise
the hot rolling mill and casthouse, which allowed the company to grow its capacity
and simultaneously improve the quality and range of its products. The ownership
was further strengthened in 2009 when Furukawa-Sky Aluminium bought a new
25 per cent equity. In 2013, Furukawa-Sky merged with Sumitomo Light Metals to
become UACJ Corporation.
»Managing director:
»Established in 2001
»Based in Bridgnorth,
»Services: Aluminium
»No. of employees: 395
»Turnover: £197 million
»90 per cent exports
Bridgnorth Aluminium
Highlighting best practice
In the 2013 to 2017 period, the
company responded to the primary
aluminium smelter closures in the UK
and increased its casthouse capacity in
order to secure its raw material supply.
It also invested in new cold rolling
and litho finishing facilities. This £83
million investment programme has
allowed the company to strengthen
its worldwide number two position
in lithographic strip, and in doing so
created 145 new jobs – a 58 per cent
With the exception of the recession in
2009, sales volumes have grown every
year since 2005. In 2018, the company
hopes to achieve a further 15-plus
per cent growth on top of the record
achieved in 2017. Ninety per cent of
these sales are exported, and so the
company is exposed to competition
from all over the world.
Worldwide competitiveness
from Shropshire – how?
Despite a turnover of £200 million and
employment of 400 people, we are
still fundamentally a small rolling mill.
The company has succeeded in staying
competitive for three main reasons.
In Viohalco and UACJ, we have
supportive, long-term, industrially
minded shareholders. The company
has been allowed to invest, improve
productivity and innovate – all of which
has allowed Bridgnorth Aluminium
to match or surpass their leading
competitors from around the world.
We have a focused strategy which
allows us to concentrate on the
specific requirements of our
chosen segments, especially the
demanding requirements of the
graphic arts industry. Although
Bridgnorth Aluminium has always
been a strong innovator, this aspect
was strengthened in 2014 when
we established a research and
development laboratory on site for
the first time. This has dramatically
reduced the lead-time in bringing
new, innovative ideas to market,
and has also greatly increased our
research and development activities
more generally, especially in terms of
process technology. The technology
utilised in graphic arts is never at a
standstill. Bridgnorth Aluminium’s
mission is to support our customers
in addressing the needs of printers:
that is, higher quality, lower cost,
lower environmental impact and faster
change times. Seeing this, in the last
few years we have: invested in world-
leading process lines in order to deliver
flatter, cleaner strips; deployed their
research and development centre to
invent new alloys; and leveraged their
process and engineering knowledge to
reduce energy usage per tonne sold.
We are always trying to improve the
business holistically. Any business we
have won has been in the face of stiff
competition, and we need to make
our total system more competitive. In
recent years we have partnered with
a local renewable energy provider and
now take 40 per cent of our electricity
needs through a private cable. We
have a strong commitment to training
and skills development with both
in-work training and an enthusiastic
apprenticeship programme – one
of our apprentices recently won an
Training officer Jennifer
Williams (centre)
with colleagues in
the finished goods
We have
partnered with
a local
provider and
now take 40
per cent of
our electricity
needs through
a private cable
award; we partner with the Bridgnorth
Endowed School in Business in the
Community. We are on an accelerating
path towards improving the
sustainability of our business; working
with Shropshire Wildlife on the
biodiversity and the flora and fauna on
our site; we plan to become ISO 50001
certified for energy management
during 2018, and certified with the
Aluminium Stewardship Initiative – a
worldwide programme in late 2019.
We were recently recognised for our
role in our local community at the
Shropshire Chamber Business Awards.
Bridgnorth Aluminium, in addition
to selling to, and competing with,
companies around the world, is
exposed to government policy around
the world.
In the UK, the wish to become climate
change leaders and the punitive
choice of taxation mechanism has
already effectively closed most of the
UK’s primary aluminium and rolling
base, and now results in some of the
highest industrial electricity prices in
the world. This is a strong hindrance
for Bridgnorth Aluminium. While the
current government has competitive
electricity pricing in both its manifesto
commitment and written into its
industrial strategy, the much-needed
change in competitiveness has not yet
been delivered.
Seventy per cent of our sales are to
customers in the EU 27. Tariffs and
friction at ports after Brexit would
render us significantly less competitive.
There would be great value in
maintaining the current access and
ease of trade that we have with our EU
27 customers.
Furthermore, President Trump’s
tariffs affect 20 per cent of our
business; meanwhile there is no direct
competitor for our sales of metal for
the graphic arts industry in the USA.
The tariffs decrease our US customers’
competitiveness, and over time may
deteriorate future demand. We have
been very impressed by, and are
greatly appreciative of, the support
from the UK government on this issue.
Despite the above concerns, the
glass is half full: we are fortunate to
be working with a great material;
aluminium is abundant, versatile in
providing brilliant solutions to society’s
challenges, and fully recyclable. It
has been a great opportunity for us
to grow a manufacturing business in
Shropshire for the last 17 years, and
we do not plan to stop any time soon.
Our hopes for
the future:
electricity in the
UK, a frictionless
trade deal after
Brexit and an
end to
America’s 232
tariffs on
Chris Griffiths, mechanical engineering apprentice, was
shortlisted for Metals Industry Apprentice of the Year
Adedoyin Badewa-Ekungba,
strip mill process engineer


This article was sponsored by Bridgnorth Aluminium. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy