CRH’s underlying sales improved by about 6% during the first four months of the year. Disposals have raised about €275m to date, with the most important single deal being the sale of the 34.8% stake in the French distributor Trialis, that had been acquired in 2008. A total of 13 acquisitions or major investments were undertaken in the period for a cost of about €135m and the currently acquisitions pipeline is looking encouraging, suggesting further deals in the months ahead.
Cement volumes have generally been good, with the exception of Ireland, which saw a double-digit volume decline, and Portugal, which experienced a high single digit reduction. Poland has been particularly strong, with cement deliveries rising by in excess of 30%. Polish prices have been increased for bagged cement and negotiations are in hand with regard to bulk deliveries. The Swiss, Finnish and Ukrainian heavy building materials volumes were also encouraging. Overall, heavy building materials sales are up by about 4%, while the increase in building products was 12% and a 7% advance was recorded in distribution.
North American heavy building materials turnover was flat in the period, with the southeastern states being particularly tough, but the outlook is more encouraging in the northeast and in the northwest. In building products, underlying sales growth was 3% and in distribution the advance was 13%, giving a total 3% advance for the Americas.