Master Cutler James Tear warns 'drastic' action may be necessary to survive rocketing energy price

The Master Cutler fears for the future of his Sheffield manufacturing business without government help to ease soaring energy prices.

Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 9:57 am

James Tear says ‘drastic’ action may be necessary to protect Thessco after the cost of electricity trebled and gas quadrupled.

The Attercliffe precious metal engineering firm, which dates back to 1760, is already using reserves and it is feared price rises are inevitable.

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Master Cutler James Tear with silver alloy wire at Thessco in Sheffield.

But that could cost them customers - especially in Europe, which is 60 per cent of business.

Mr Tear is this year’s Master Cutler and head of historic manufacturing organisation, the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire.

He said: “We can’t tighten our belt any further but if we increase prices customers could potentially go elsewhere. It could drastically change what we do.

“Throughout previous crises we have adapted but there are fewer options this time. We might have to consider where we operate unless government can demonstrate a desire to keep manufacturing in the UK.

“The war in Ukraine and the pandemic have shown the need for us to be an independent manufacturing nation. But government is not sending signals they think that is important.”

The German government was helping its companies, he added, putting Thessco under further pressure.

And it came on top of Brexit which had cost £100,000 due to red tape and the need to hold more stock. It had also added ‘at least a week’ on to delivery times.

The 90-strong company makes silver alloys used in industry and silver brazing. It is ‘very busy’ and recruiting but there was the question of ‘are we going to have a business next year,’ Mr Tear said, although as manufacturers ‘we are born survivors’, he added.

The company has a distribution and sales centre in Paris.

In March, one of Sheffield’s biggest steel firms Forged Solutions Group called for Government support stating ‘meteoric’ energy price rises were ‘unsustainable’.

The firm called on ministers to bring in subsidies or remove tax burdens because the increases in electricity and gas prices were too big to pass on to the customer.

And Liberty Steel workers in Rotherham and Sheffield put up billboards shaming Prime Minister Boris Johnson over a pledge to cut energy costs if they voted for Brexit in 2016.

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