Vicat’s first quarter turnover was off by 2.1% to EUR471m in absolute terms, but improved by 1.1% on a comparative basis. Of this, cement contributed 6.0% more at EUR214m, while the negative effects in the United States led to a 7.4% decline to EUR195m in concrete and aggregates and a 9.5% decline in other activities to €63 largely reflected the disposal of non-core activities. Cement shipments increased by 4.7% to 3.19m tonnes and aggregates deliveries improved by 5.4% to 4.99Mt. Again reflecting the US situation, sales of ready-mixed concrete declined by 5.3% to 1.90m m³. Net debt at the end of March was virtually unchanged from the year-end level of EUR515m.
French turnover improved by 4.2% to EUR248m, with the cement turnover rising by 7.8% on the back of improved volumes and prices, with domestic volumes up by just under 2%. In concrete and aggregates, turnover rose by 8.3%, again boosted by higher volumes and prices. Elsewhere in Europe, turnover improved by 6.1% to EUR61m. In cement, Swiss turnover rose by 15.4% and by 22.9% in Italy, which had had a poor start to 2007. Turnover in concrete and aggregates declined by 3.2% as major contracts in Switzerland were completed.
In the United States, turnover also amounted to EUR61m, which represents a drop of 37.0%, or a 27.9% decline on a comparative basis. The cement turnover was 21.7% lower, with prices stable overall and all of the drop being volume related. The underlying decline in ready-mixed concrete shipments was 31.9%, with the weak economic situation being further aggravated by poor weather, notably in California. At the beginning of May, Vicat announced the acquisition of the Walker group, which operates 14 ready-mixed concrete batching plants in the Atlanta area of Georgia. The plants, which last year generated a turnover in the region of US$60m, have a combined annual capacity of 0.7m m³ and the acquisition should be seen in the context of the increase in cement capacity at the Ragland works in Alabama, planned for 2010.