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To all our dear customers…

To all our dear customers,

Another challenging year approaches its end! I have come to the view that you, our fabricator customers, and ourselves are sharing the same boat. We all had a dose of uncertainty from the start of 2021, then struggled with labour, then suffered from wage pressure from the driver sector of the workforce, then started to see material supply issues followed by considerable cost increases in just about every bought-in material and chemical. And then, to cap it all, massive increases in energy costs! Oh yes, going full circle, we come back currently to severe pressure on manufacturing wages.

So, I guess we will all be grateful to get 2021 behind us but, hang on, here we go again with possibly another destructive round of Covid! I fear that many Brits have become a bit complacent about it and have begun to ignore the high daily infection numbers, whilst we feel (perhaps with too much confidence) reasonably secured by our double or triple jabs. So caution has gone out of much of our behaviours in public. Not so, though, at Joseph Ash Group – we have never relaxed our Covid defence rules and we have kept up the mask-wearing, distancing, cleaning and detailed investigation of the movements and contacts at work of anyone testing positive for the few days before doing so. Therefore I believe that any of your drivers visiting our sites will continue to be safe, but will, of course, be asked to carry on respecting our rules.

It is difficult to predict the year ahead. Some further restrictions seem highly likely, with maybe even a short lockdown, with lessons learned from 2020 and an acceptance that the economy must continue to function. I doubt if material supply will get any easier for a while yet, and the ongoing, now routine, self-isolation of employees will keep us all several per cent short in labour. On the plus side, demand appears to be holding up. There seems to be plenty of money to fund investment in steel capital goods and projects, with many still awaiting associated materials to allow completion.

So, I wish us all luck in this manufacturing partnership boat of ours, and pray that the seas will remain reasonably calm. But, most of all, I wish that together, our staff and yours will stay healthy and content, starting with a very Happy Christmas for all, followed by a successful, safe and prosperous New Year.

Take very, very good care,

Steven

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