Lafarge pours efforts into innovative new R&D facility

Lafarge pours efforts into innovative new R&D facility
Published: 04 October 2007

Lafarge’s has just opened a Euro 10m advanced concrete testing laboratory in
France part of which will be used to promote two new specialist products:
Extensia and Chronolia, products which accounted for 16 per cent of
Lafarge’s total sales of 43.4 mln cubic meters of concrete last year,
said Gerard Kuperfarb, head of Lafarge’s aggregates and concrete division.

Lafarge aims to raise this share to 30 per cent ’very rapidly,’ and
forecasts that eventually specialized concrete will account for half of all
concrete sales by volume. Next year the company forecasts sales of
speciality concretes of Euro 1bn compared to total concrete sales last year
of Euro 3.3bn, Kuperfarb said. He declined to provide sales forecasts for
Extensia and Chronolia.

To drive this growth, Lafarge has doubled its R&D spending on concrete to
Euro 10m per year over the last five years, and this will continue to
increase, Kuperfarb said.

Higher sales of Extensia and Chronolia, as well as other specialized
concretes to have come out of Lafarge’s R&D center such as Agilia and
Ductal, should help Lafarge exceed its target of average annual
earnings-per-share growth of 10 per between 2005 and 2008, and a return on
capital employed of 10 per by 2008.

That’s because these kinds of concrete can be sold at significantly higher
prices, thanks to the savings of time and money they provide builders.
Agilia, for example, a type of concrete whose exceptional fluidity makes it
easier and faster to use, is sold for about 15-20 eur more per cubic meter
than ordinary concrete - a 10-20 per cent premium, according to Kuperfarb.