The rising cost of nickel is putting pressure on chrome plating firms, a UK automotive supplier said on Friday.

David Coombes, managing director of Borough, which specialises in chrome-plating automotive plastics, said there are various theories as to why nickel is now so expensive - including either a shortage of the metal or rising demand from both Europe and the Far East, as well as increased consumption.

"There may be many theories as to why the cost of nickel has increased to such an extent, but whatever the reason, the reality is hitting us, and other chrome plating manufacturers, hard," Coombes said.

"What we do know is that nickel has risen in price from around GBP8.00/kg to GBP28.00 which almost puts it in the same category as precious metals.

"The challenge for us is keeping our products, which are renowned for their high quality, at a competitive price in spite of the growing costs of our key base material."

Producing electroplated plastics to endure the severe conditions of exterior use requires a significant thickness of nickel, Borough said.

"Nickel is absolutely essential for electroplating so there's no getting away from this issue," added Coombes.

"We've had to increase our prices as a result but have to ensure we remain competitive or our customers will seek a different supplier. It's a difficult market place in which to operate right now and we have to make sure we're one step ahead of the game whenever possible."

He said his company focuses on high quality to set it apart from the competition and on winning new contracts.