Metstok Ltd is a family-owned business specialising in the wholesale distribution of stainless steel flat rolled products.
The company was founded in 2013 by husband and wife team John and Jane Vernon who, having been involved in stainless steel stockholding, spotted an opportunity further up the supply chain in wholesale distribution.
Initially Metstok acted as exclusive agents in the UK and Irish markets for Jindal Stainless of India. But, having seen first-hand the barriers to sales caused by extended lead times and international payment terms, the team proposed a different approach, which was for the mill to carry stock in Europe. This, together with Metstok acting as distributor, created a new supply option with faster deliveries, current pricing, and trading on open credit, which is more akin to the European model.
Due to limited logistics the business model was to sell only full truckloads of material to established stockholders, and not service smaller accounts; this was primarily because of the need to optimise transport costs from the Antwerp warehouse. As a consequence, there were only a limited number of customers available to Metstok in the UK, and the above factors meant the company looked to Europe to scale the business.
The UK now accounts for 15% of the company’s turnover, which will be £45 million in the year to March 2019, and the company sells to 14 European countries, with the largest market now being Germany. In 2016 the concern over Brexit saw the creation of Metstok-Inox in Ireland to help protect supplies to European customers.
The successful team now numbers 16 people, with finance and operations based in Clitheroe and sales teams being based in national markets. Language skills are essential and the team boasts Czech, German, Slovakian, French, Spanish and South Slavic speaking staff.
The future is bright for Metstok, which is in the process of adding aluminium to its product mix and expanding geographically into new global markets beyond Europe.