The latest report coming from different steel and research companies in Europe like Centre for European Economic Research is that the European stainless steel industry will probably not be able to bounce back yet in 2013. The demand for stainless steel in Europe remains flat in the first quarter of the year especially from end users. Infrastructure and bulk orders are also not compensating as many are holding back on new investments in construction and manufacturing. The studies show that the stimulus needed for the stainless steel market is only possible if orders come in from outside of Europe. Unfortunately, the economies of Western and Southern Europe remain critical even as Asia¡¯s stainless steel industries are beginning to recover. There are signs that North America could be on the brink of a slow recovery and many European steel companies are hoping to gain from this latest trend.
The expectations were that companies would start placing orders for stainless steel products to re-stock their inventory. However, prices of certain elements like Nickel have spooked many to a wait-and-see situation.
Aperam, a leading European stainless steel company with production plants in France, Belgium, and Brazil reports that their last quarter 2012 sales were dismal because of the weak base prices and decreasing demand for long and flat products. They have resorted to increasing their base price by 50 Euros last January 2013 although it¡¯s too early to tell if this strategy will work to their benefit. The company also plans to acquire new assets to consolidate its hold on the European stainless steel market
The forecast for 2013 is a 1% drop in all stainless steel products until an expected recovery happens in 2014. This is the stand of Damstahl which remains the sole pan-European, family-owned stainless steel company with offices in 6 countries. They just invested in a fully automated high rack warehouse located in Langenfeld worth 4.5 Euros. The warehouse will be operational by the end of 3rd Quarter 2013. Moreover, countries like Sweden, Germany, Slovenia, the Netherlands, and Denmark are expected to post a positive growth while Spain, Italy, Greece, and Portugal will continue to experience a slump.
Another industry that is expected to help stainless steel companies recover is the petro-chemical industry as projects continue to be posted.