September 1, 2022

VISIT TO CUTLERS BY ALDERMAN AND SHERIFF ALISON GOWMAN

Alderman Gowman has expressed how much she valued visiting Sheffield recently to attend the special Masters’ weekend in June and the Culters of Hallamshire Forfeit Feast at the end of July.

She said “Made in Sheffield is such a familiar phrase, seen mostly on cutlery and flatware, that it is overlooked as to the implications that the term bears. The manufacturing might of Sheffield has driven a trade around items with a cutting edge for many centuries, with the Company of Cutlers of Hallamshire being established in 1624. The location of the City with a source of water power, stone for grinding wheels and iron ore – as well as engaging entrepreneurship meant that the businesses grew in a cluster around Sheffield.  Innovation, such as the invention of the Bessemer Converter, meant that the City was synonymous with steel throughout the world.  The words Made in Sheffield were seen to be key to the quality mark and a Sheffield Defence Committee was set up in the 1900s to protect the name. The term is still boldly defended as a registered trademark and with a licencing arrangement that allows and regulates the use of the phrase. You can rely on it if it is Made in Sheffield”.

The Lord Mayor of London, along with the Sheriffs, were entertained to lunch at Cutlers’ Hall and heard from a great group of 20 or so businesses who each gave a two-minute oversight of their challenges and plans. It was an amazing mixture of organisations large and small, traditional and futuristic who gave a real flavour of the lively business environment in Sheffield. The businesses included many that are still closely connected to steel, knives and allied trades whilst other businesses had a more tech focused angle with engagement in AI and education, including the energetic University of Sheffield.

Some of the themes aired were common across the businesses and have echoes throughout the nation – the cost of energy going up (in one case by 450%) and some of these are very intensive energy users. Supply chain issues were very urgent.  Some of the businesses were setting up new buildings and expanding – key here is staffing and training as well as the good use of apprenticeships. A recruitment business remarked they have many staff vacancies and not enough people applying which is holding back such expansion as well as the right kind of education and guidance.  Climate and ESG issues were clearly a consideration with businesses ensuring that there is no waste in their processes and many were directly involved in this area via electric vehicles and similar products.

Visit to ITM Power 

In the afternoon they visited ITM Power who make electrolysers for green hydrogen and were shown around an expanding business park.  The reach of their distribution and partnerships showed how important the use of green hydrogen will be for the future of energy.

Alderman Bowman remarked that it was clear that Sheffield had a vibrant and innovative business and manufacturing community and that they were privileged to meet them and share some thoughts and understand so much more about the economic drivers and industry needs.