Switzerland: LafargeHolcim’s first half profit fell by 43% from Euro561.8m in 2017 to Euro320.3m in 2018. Sales rose by 2.7% to Euro11.45bn. Under new CEO Jan Jenisch, who took over in September 2017, the company has been slashing costs, announcing earlier in 2018 that it will close its head offices in Zurich and Paris and shed around 200 jobs as it aims to save Euro345.2m/yr by the end of first quarter of 2019.
Jenisch said he was pleased with the sales growth, particularly the acceleration during the second quarter, when sales increased by 5%, up from a 2.7% rate in the first three months of the year.
“Operational issues in some markets have been addressed and we expect to deliver increasing margins as we capture the upward trend in demand through the second half of 2018,” said Janisch. “We had a couple of plants where I was not happy that the output was not in line with market demand. We have made sure we can maximise their output in the second half.”
Sales were supported by strong growth in India, one of the company’s largest markets, where its subsidiary Ambuja Cement posted a 27% increase in profit during the second quarter. However, losses in Africa weighed heavily on the firm, with the regional unit reporting a loss after being hit by higher finance charges and losses from its South African business.
Jenisch said that the Africa and Middle East region will remain tough, while adding that the company would press ahead with its disposal programme. It aims to raise about US$1.73m from selling cement plants.”We are on track here. We have done our portfolio review and will hopefully announce something later this year,” said Jenisch. “However, there is nothing I can talk about at this time.”