Europe remains at low level despite good start into the year

European recovery considerably weaker than expected

The recovery of the European economy slowed down in the course of 2014 as major markets reported lower than expected growth rates and political uncertainties took their toll. Development in the first half of the year was stronger though.

The economy in the United Kingdom was one of the most robust in the Group region, showing solid growth despite some political uncertainty caused by the Scottish referendum for independence in the third quarter. Belgium and the Netherlands were impacted by their governments’ austerity measures and budget cuts. France’s economy continued to largely move sideways in the year under review, and economic development in Germany cooled down in the course of the year as consumer and business confidence developed less favorably. Switzerland’s economy lost some of its momentum also as a result of uncertainty caused by political developments, while in Italy there were no signs of a recovery. In Spain, economic activity rebounded slightly in 2014 while the situation in Eastern Europe remained mixed with some countries not able to exit recession. Steady economic growth in Azerbaijan continued in 2014, but Russia felt the effects of the political instability caused by the Ukraine crisis.

Construction activity rebounds in selected markets

In the United Kingdom construction spending increased on solid levels in 2014 mainly driven by residential and commercial projects. Construction activity in Belgium and the Netherlands remained subdued in the year under review, while in France the slowdown continued, driven by a drop in new construction and a lack of government spending. In comparison with other countries in the region, Germany’s construction sector remained solid. Switzerland’s construction market continued to be in sound shape despite a decline in construction permits, but the Italian market deteriorated further and more intensely than other sectors in the country. In Spain, the very challenging situation of the past years began to ease slightly as construction activity increased in the year under review. Eastern Europe was still waiting for a major rebound in demand for building materials. Azerbaijan’s construction sector was dynamically fueled by government spending. Despite the macroeconomic challenges, Russia’s construction sector grew moderately.

Consolidated key figures Europe

 

2014

2013

±%

±% LFL*

*

Like-for-like, i.e. factoring out changes in the scope of consolidation and currency translation effects.

Production capacity cement in million t

46.8

47.7

–2.0

 

Cement and grinding plants

34

35

 

 

Aggregates plants

188

203

 

 

Ready-mix concrete plants

373

414

 

 

Asphalt plants

51

49

 

 

Sales of cement in million t

26.4

26.7

–1.0

–1.0

Sales of mineral components in million t

2.3

2.1

+10.2

+10.2

Sales of aggregates in million t

73.1

74.1

–1.4

–1.0

Sales of ready-mix concrete in million m3

11.9

12.3

–3.0

–2.5

Sales of asphalt in million t

5.6

4.9

+14.5

+15.3

Net sales in million CHF

5,554

5,611

–1.0

+0.2

Operating EBITDA in million CHF

991

946

+4.8

+6.7

Operating EBITDA margin in %

17.8

16.9

 

 

Operating profit in million CHF

510

436

+16.8

+16.1

Operating profit margin in %

9.2

7.8

 

 

Personnel

15,399

15,868

–3.0

–2.6