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“For three months, about half of our sales have gone to the North American market thanks to the economic recovery in the USA,” Viriyaprapaikit said in a video interview with the local Teesside Gazette on Wednesday January 29.
“The market is firm and looks to be still improving into 2014,” he added.
SSI UK’s export revenue was $1.5 billion in 2013, and the company hopes to reach $1.8 billion in export revenue this year if the plant hits its production targets, Viriyaprapaikit said.
“We think a large part of that will be down to the North American market,” he added.
Thai parent company Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) bought the mothballed slab plant in north-east England from Tata in 2011, but SSI UK’s profitability has suffered as a result of weak global markets and delays to the start-up of its pulverised coal injection plant.
It also owes £18 million ($29.8 million) in local council taxes, Viriyaprapaikit said.
The company expects to hit break-even in 2014, he added.
Steadily increasing production and revenues at the SSI UK plant have been beneficial to the parent group’s overall performance, Viriyaprapaikit said.
“The current political situation in Thailand is affecting demand for steel. Our sales are booming in the UK so, at the group level, our sales have not dropped because of this geographical diversification,” he explained.