Business person of The Year: Jackie Neal, Abbey Forged Products

Howard Freeman of Shorts with Jackie Neal of Abbery Forged Products at the Sheffield Business Awards 2014.
Howard Freeman of Shorts with Jackie Neal of Abbery Forged Products at the Sheffield Business Awards 2014.
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In a typically male-dominated industry, Jackie Neal has forged a world-leading steel company with a multi-million pound turnover.

She founded Abbey Forged Products Ltd with her husband in 1982, working from their home on Abbey Lane.

Jackie proved a savvy businesswoman and grew the company, remaining at the helm to ensure the family business ethos remained throughout.

Now the UK’s leading forgemaster in the oil and gas industry, the Oughtibridge-based firm specialises in creating bespoke high integrity parts such as flanges, blinds, blocks and rings using open die and ring rolling methods in materials including carbon, stainless steel, duplex steel and nickel alloy.

During its 30 years in the industry Abbey has worked closely with major end users and OEMs.

Although recent years were economically unstable, Jackie continued to invest in both plant and people and retained all staff through the toughest times.

In the last three years alone, turnover has doubled to £44m and increased growth is expected this year.

In particular this year, international trade has grown by £5m since Jackie ran a targeted campaign in partnership with the UKTI, South Yorkshire International Trade Forum and South Yorkshire International Trade Centre.

The company has improved its presence in markets globally and maintained Sheffield’s reputation as a world-leading manufacturing hub.

Earlier this year it was recognised for its international trade with the Queen’s Award.

The company was requested to send two employees to Buckingham Palace for a reception with the Queen and Jackie gave up her place so employees who had been most involved with the work could attend.

Abbey has invested millions in Sheffield – when it could have invested in cheaper overseas manufacturing facilities – and grown its presence in international markets.