Volumes remain under pressure
Aggregate Industries UK benefited from high demand for building materials in all its businesses. Aggregates volumes were up significantly and the Group company’s strong position in the London market and ongoing growth in commercial and residential real estate construction led to a significant increase in ready-mix concrete volumes. Asphalt deliveries were up as well, driven largely by road maintenance and repair works.
Holcim Belgium, which also serves the Netherlands, reported slightly higher cement volumes and significantly lower deliveries of aggregates and ready-mix concrete as a result of the low level of building activity. Following a good start into the year, Holcim France suffered from cement volume declines in the course of 2014, leading to lower deliveries for the full year. Aggregates and ready-mix concrete volumes were down as well as a result of the negative market environment.
Holcim Germany, like several other Group companies in the region, benefited from the mild winter, but growth of cement and aggregates volumes flattened out in the second half of 2014 as a result of the deteriorating economic climate. Fewer infrastructure projects led to lower cement volumes at Holcim South Germany. Aggregates and ready-mix concrete deliveries were down as well.
Holcim Switzerland was impacted by increased pressure through cement imports and stronger domestic competition which led to lower volumes in this segment. In aggregates and ready-mix concrete volumes were down as well. In Italy, volumes declined in all three segments as a result of the further worsening market development.
Holcim Spain recorded increases in cement volumes that were mainly supported by exports, and domestic volumes also started to develop favorably. Following the footprint adjustment in the second quarter of 2014, aggregates and ready-mix concrete volumes decreased markedly.
Eastern Europe also benefited from a strong start into the fiscal year, but most markets developed more slowly since then. In cement, all Group companies except Serbia, Croatia, and Hungary reported better volumes. Holcim Czech Republic increased aggregate volumes markedly, thanks to a major highway project. In ready-mix concrete, Holcim Romania, with the Group’s most important market in the region, recorded significant increases thanks to larger projects in the Bucharest area.
Holcim Azerbaijan was faced with increased competitive pressure by two new local cement producers and more imports from Iran. Subsequently, the Group company was unable to maintain the high volumes of the previous year and sold less cement. In Russia, Holcim grew well above the market average thanks to infrastructure investments.
In 2014, consolidated cement volumes in the Group region were down 1.0 percent to 26.4 million tonnes mainly as a result of Azerbaijan and Italy. Aggregates shipments reached 73.1 million tonnes, a decline of 1.4 percent. Ready-mix concrete volumes were 3.0 percent lower to 11.9 million cubic meters but asphalt volumes increased 14.5 percent to 5.6 million tonnes. Net sales in Europe decreased 1.0 percent to CHF 5.55 billion.
Trade volumes grow by around 5 percent
In 2014 Holcim Trading posted a trading volume of 20.1 million tonnes (2013: 18.5 million tonnes). The growth can be attributed mostly to the larger share of non-Group customers. The larger customers are, as in the previous year, in the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates. Holcim Trading has proven an instrumental part of the Group, enabling countries to postpone investments in clinker production facilities by utilizing available capacity of other countries. The global trading patterns remained overall rather stable with approximately 40 percent sold to customers in Asia Pacific.