Smith Bullough: Keeping the momentum going

As the Manchester-based bolt manufacturer Smith Bullough experiences a busy 2021, Director Tim Garton speaks with Torque Magazine about the importance of keeping the momentum going...

Based in Hindley Green, Greater Manchester, Smith Bullough supplies the fastener distribution trade with the largest range of standard and non‐standard special bolts and fastener products in the UK, according to the group.

So far, businesses have experienced a variety of challenges following the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit trade deal. An increase in raw material prices in particular, has left many global companies in a difficult situation.

Tim Garton, Director at Smith Bullough says “The increase has been significant (>30%) from both stockholders and steel mills. As a bolt manufacturer who uses significant quantities of steel in our manufacturing process, we have had to manage a shortage of availability in addition to the price hikes. The UK Steel safeguarding system is another big problem for fastener manufacturers. In the UK to help domestic steel suppliers a 25% tariff on imported steel is levied once imports have reached a specific level. Unfortunately, Liberty Steel (UK) have not supplied the UK market since Q1 of 2021 and 125,000 tonnes of material is lost to UK manufacturers which needs to be filled by imports, if available, regardless of high sales price and possible import tariffs.”

In regard to the Brexit trade deal coming into place this year, Garton says: “Brexit caused a lot of logistics grief. Although better, the situation is far from satisfactory. Costs are increasing.”

Additionally, with an increase in demand post pandemic for special and non‐standard parts, 2021 has been a busy year compared to 2020 for the company. Garton adds “We are fortunate that only a very small amount of our sales go into the passenger car market that endured the Covid pandemic and whose production is now being decimated by the global lack of microchips.”

To help combat the rise in demand throughout the fastener and fixing and tools industries, Smith Bullough has recently added to its thread rolling capacity. Garton tells Torque Magazine: “In the past year we have introduced CNC milling and a large CNC machine with live tooling. These machines complement our in‐house forging capability.”

With important customers also based outside the UK, Smith Bullough will increase its manufacturing capability to match demand and improve customer satisfaction, in a bid to keep the 2021 momentum going.

Are you in the fastener, tool, fixing or related industries? You can subscribe to Torque Magazine or sign up to our weekly newsletter.