Suppliers and importers are bracing themselves amid reports of a global crisis in steel supplies, while some companies say they have anticipated the problem by building ample buffer stocks.

Anglo European Group, supplier of galvanised window and door reinforcements, says it has taken steps to guarantee at least six months of stocks and is negotiating further supplies into Q3.

Similarly, bi-fold hardware supplier AT Precision says it has ensured three months of stock and is constantly replenishing as demand continues.

Global shortages and consequent price increases have been caused by a ‘perfect storm’ in market conditions including fluctuations caused by Covid-19, international politics, a return to pre-pandemic demand from the automotive sector and China becoming a net importer of steel for the first time in a decade. Iron ore costs are at a nine-year high as a result, with both planned and emergency steel mill outages also contributing. Against this backdrop, the World Steel Association representing 85% of global steel production, predicts demand for finished steel to increase by 4.1% this year.

Anglo European Group CEO Paul Sullivan says market conditions are the most volatile in 30 years. “Core material price increases are substantial and changing daily, and these will have to be passed on as they take place, However, the key issue is continuity of supply. To ensure that our customers do not experience potentially severe disruption to their production output caused by shortages of steel reinforcement, we have secured supplies at least until July 31st2021, with negotiations at an advanced stage for the second half of the year.”

AT Precision sales director Michael Hewitt said: “There’s been a general bi-fold hardware shortage across the board, but thanks to careful pre-planning, we’re always overstocked, meaning our customers can rely on us to get what they need without delay.

“Even now, with a new strain of Covid-19 and Brexit fears having caused disruption at UK ports and posing a further threat to the supply chain as a result, AT Precision is still fully stocked, meaning their customers don’t need to worry.”