The true big story of the year has been, unfortunately, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The human cost of this conflict, like those of the other conflicts afflicting the world, outweighs everything else. Some enterprising citizens and businesses were moved to do their bit, including one fastener business driving over an ambulance and supplies for the conflict zone. Aside from those human costs, the knockon effects of energy prices and inflation in general are being felt throughout Europe and beyond.
Onto more fastener-specific news and the implementation of Europe’s antidumping duties on certain iron and steel fasteners from China on 18 February 2022 was probably the biggest story of the year for the sector.
The prior November saw the first solid indication that antidumping levies were on their way, following a lengthy trade investigation instigated by EIFI (the European Institute of Fastener Industries), which provided evidence of “unfairly low priced imports” which “have caused material injury to the Union industry of the like product”. The European Commission has been investigating whether the imports from China were “dumped” and if so, whether to impose a levy to “restore fair trading conditions”.
The European Commission’s timing was considered questionable but hopes that the trade levy would be postponed until after trade disruption of the time were dashed.
The duty rates reach up to 86.5% with reduced tariffs for a limited number of Chinese companies.
- Jiangsu Yongyi Fastener Co., Ltd.: 22.1%
- Ningbo Jinding Fastening Piece Co., Ltd.: 46.1%
- Wenzhou Junhao Industry Co., Ltd: 48.8%
- Other cooperating companies: 39.6%
- All other companies: 86.5%
ANOTHER FINANCIAL CRISIS, ANOTHER ROUND OF ANTI-DUMPING LEVIES...
In a previous financial crisis, back in 2009, the European Commission imposed antidumping duties on fasteners from China. The levies imposed were broadly similar to 2022’s levels, at around 80%. China fought back on that occasion, heading to the WTO to question the ruling. The WTO (eventually) found in favour of China and then, in 2016, the European Commission repealed the antidumping levies, with little warning.
So, can we expect the WTO to strike again? It’s unclear whether China has been in contact with the WTO’s Dispute body this time around, although even if there is an official dispute being investigated, it’s likely it will take some time to come to a resolution.
And what about the success of 2022’s antidumping duties? Anecdotal reports certainly indicate that more fastener production is being seen in countries such as Poland (see our last print issue), with factories in that country incredibly busy. Returning to a point made earlier, it’s hard to reasonably attribute this phenomenon solely to antidumping, or to the many other disruptions to trade we’ve seen in the last few months (and years).
THE OTHER BIG STORIES OF THE YEAR
1. Keller Kalmbach and Mohindra Fasteners new joint venture: The two joined forces to establish KK Mohindra Fasteners, which will implement VMI, Kanban and other Cparts management tools to Indian and international industrial plants in India.
2. Strikes disrupt UK’s largest port: Importers rearranged and rerouted their goods when Felixstowe (the UK’s largest port) saw eight days of strikes. More have followed since however a pay deal struck in late 2022 has seemingly put an end to further port disruption.
3. Milwaukee Tools owner buys C4 Carbides: Heavyweight power tool group TTI snapped up UK-based C4 Carbides, a firm making a name for itself with innovative cutting solutions.
4. Battery sharing platforms gather momentum: Bosch had a phenomenally busy 2022, not least in its promise to spend billions on producing semiconductors. The power tool market also eyed its expansion of its AMPShare multibrand shared battery system, which follows in the footsteps of the Metabo tech-led Cordless Alliance System, which has been adopted by some fastener brands.
THE BIG FASTENER AND TOOL TAKEOVERS OF 2022 > TIMCO, SIMPSON AND SFS
£54 million was the sum paid by Sweden-headquartered Bufab for Uk and Ireland-focused wholesaler, TIMCO. Founded in 1972, the firm is continuing to be run by the founding Midwood family, current MD Simon Midwood is still heading the business with the senior TIMCO team, which leads a business with approx. 180 employees and a £60 million sales.
In fact you didn’t have to go far to find news of an acquisition in 2022, from fastener related deals that dwarfed the TIMCO deal like MKS completing a $4.4 billion Atotech buyout to purchases of innovative start-ups.
Simpson Manufacturing spent €725 million on ETANCO while Fabory snapped up Fastto Nederland and the fastener division of Importinox.
One of the biggest acquisitions was SFS Group’s purchase of quality tool brand Hoffman SE. Hailed a “quantum leap” in expanding the market position and size of SFS Group, Hoffman is a heavy hitting firm, generating around €1 billion in sales (in 2021), with approximately 3,000 employees and on site in over 50 countries.
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