Lafarge sees Morocco cement market growing

Lafarge sees Morocco cement market growing
Published: 20 April 2010

Morocco’s cement market will pick up strength this year after a weak first quarter which saw sales falling because of disruptions caused by flooding and bad weather, the head of the Moroccan subsidiary of Lafarge said on Monday.

Morocco has experienced a construction boom in recent years as the government initiated the construction of new roads, rails and ports, and drew record foreign investment in hotels and resorts to cater to increasing numbers of tourists.

Domestic demand has risen by 10 per cent annually in the three years to 2009 when the rate of growth then slowed to 3.4 per cent due to the impact of the global financial crisis.

“For the year 2010, we are optimistic despite the decline of cement sales of two per cent in the first three months of the year because of heavy rains and flooding,” Pierre Damnon, managing director of Lafarge Ciments told Reuters in an interview.

“We are counting on cement market growth of one or two per cent this year. Our company will benefit from that growth,” Damnon added.

Asked about expected results for this year, Damnon said: "We are upbeat for 2010. We shall make a good year. We think to maintain our growth on a comparable level with 2009’s results."

Lafarge Ciments saw its net profit rising 10.4 per cent to MAD1.861bn (US$231m) last year versus 2008 on a turnover increase of 10.7 per cent to MAD5.441bn. "The results of 2009 were good. We did not suffer from the crisis in Morocco as firms elsewhere in the world had suffered," Damnon added.

Damnon said Lafarge Ciments was mulling over building a new cement plant in the southern Souss region where the company saw growth opportunities.

"For now we have enough output capacity to meet demand, mainly in north of Morocco. But we must from now start thinking about a new project to expand," he said.

He said the project was undergoing a feasibility study but did not elaborate.