“There are some things we now regard as being normal as a result of the pandemic,” says Paul. “The major one is how adept we have become at communicating remotely. Now that the threat of COVID is easing, we have started to meet you, our customers, in person again. At the same time we are taking advantage of the productivity gains that electronic communication offers.”
“Our teams have noted the enthusiasm customers have shown for in-person meetings, be it at trade fairs, conferences, or customer visits,” notes Laurent.
Laurent also stresses that ArcelorMittal has a key advantage: “We are very close to our main markets. This proximity has enabled us to maintain customer relationships and supplies without too much disruption – despite what is happening in the world. Our willingness to go the extra mile during these tough times has increased the level of trust our customers have in ArcelorMittal Europe. They know we are reliable and stable, and can trust us to be there tomorrow.”
Sustainability is another area that has grown in importance over the past two years. “Lockdowns gave people a chance to pause and consider what sort of world they wanted to live in,” says Paul. “Decarbonisation has become increasingly important. ArcelorMittal was ahead of the curve here with our commitment to net-zero steelmaking by 2050. And we’re proud to say that in the past two years we’ve been able to adjust our interim 2030 target from a 30-percent decrease in emissions in Europe to 35-percent.”
And the outlook for ArcelorMittal Europe? “Making predictions is difficult, but we believe that the current slowdown in demand is exaggerated,” says Laurent. “China is likely to experience a rebound once the country comes out of the heavy COVID lockdowns we are seeing now. And demand for renewable energy is also set to increase as countries try to limit their dependence on Russian energy supplies.
“This will increase demand for electrical steels – a market where ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products leads the field,” says Paul. “We’re also taking steps to increase production of electrical steels to address the rapid growth in electric vehicle production that is coming.”
Both Paul and Laurent note that: “Whatever happens, ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products will continue to adapt to meet the needs of our customers. Looking forward to meeting you soon!”