The 2018 financial year proceeded overall as expected and without any major surprises. Like almost every other year, nickel played an important role in the situation on the stainless steel market.
2014 and 2015, in which nickel continually fell to new lows, are now a thing of the past. There was a clear double-digit increase in the nickel price in 2017 compared with the previous year and it stabilised towards the end of the year. One factor that led to this price rise is the dramatic change in the environmental policy in China.
The Chinese government closed a large number of manufacturing plants and businesses permanently or temporarily for environmental reasons, which led to shortages and longer delivery dates. However, the so-called ‘Tesla effect’ was not yet noticeable in 2017. It had been expected that worldwide nickel consumption would rise sharply because nickel is used in car batteries. It is assumed and feared that the nickel mines will almost be able to dictate prices.
A positive feature was the effect of the removal of the anti-dumping charge in China, which led to greater competition among producers on the purchase side and created a broader supplier basis for us.
2017 was certainly a turbulent year for WASI. Moving into our new administration facilities and the associated merger of two sites into one central location created several logistical and organisational challenges, which needed to be solved. Our customers quickly benefitted from this change and the improved performance, in particular our availability, and fast delivery service, were regarded as positive developments.
The constant challenge remains of satisfying our customers’ wishes in ever shorter delivery times. The target is to move towards almost 100% availability of the warehouse range.
As raw material prices have already risen beyond 2017, the effects on the entire market situation will also still be felt in 2018. This means that it is already foreseeable that prices for stainless steel connecting components are likely to rise during the first half of 2018.
For 2018, I expect further volume growth for WASI, which is when the advantages of the new logistics – with the latest technology that can satisfy every requirement and the permanently expanding proximity to customers – can be fully utilised to generate further growth.
Another focus for 2018 will be the newly launched products. The expansion of the range by over 1,000 new products will help us to continue to acquire new customers and become an even more interesting supplier for our existing customers.
An increasing number of enquiries about duplex steels beyond A4 are being received. We will supply our customers with a wide range of the latter to be delivered from stock. This is also an indication that at WASI we always listen to the market and therefore to our customers. We not only want to satisfy our customers, but also impress them.
Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 10 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.
Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the Magazine is renowned.