The Moroccan subsidiary of Swiss cement company Holcim on Tuesday forecast cement sales growth of around five per cent this year as it steps up output to cater to growth in housing and infrastructure projects. Holcim Maroc’s turnover increased 11 percent last year to 1.75 billion dirhams (US$194.9m), while operating profit climbed 4.9 percent to 514 million dirhams and net profit was little changed at 354 million dirhams. The company reportedly gained cement market share as its volume sales grew by 8.7 per cent, outpacing market growth of five percent.
Holcim Maroc’s traditional heartland is in the east of the kingdom but its national coverage is set to improve when it completes a Euro 250m cement plant at Settat, near the kingdom’s economic capital Casablanca. The factory, due for completion by the third quarter of 2007, will offer 1.7Mta of production capacity and bring it closer to key customers.
Commenting on the outlook for turnover and profits at a conference for analysts and the press in Casablanca, Holcim Maroc Chairman Dominique Drouet said the company was engaged in a steady expansion. "We said we see growth of about 5 percent and we expect to continue on that trend," he said. "We’ve had a certain number of expenses that were not really recurring this year and that we shouldn’t have next year ... but we expect continuity, with sales growing and the rest growing in the same way.
Consumption of cement in Morocco grew to over 10Mt last year from about 7.5Mt at the start of the decade as a government-led modernisation drive led to new housing, road and port projects. Drouet said the industry should have no problem meeting a further increase in cement demand, given that consumption would total less than 11Mt this year and that the combined production capacity in place was 12Mt.
He said Holcim Maroc would itself add 2Mt of production next year, taking the total to 14Mt, excluding that added by its competitors, which include Lafarge Ciments and Ciments du Maroc .
Holcim has owned 51 percent of Holcim Maroc since its privatisation in 1993. Banque Islamique de Developpement owns 14 per cent while the remaining 35 per cent is free float. Drouet said there was unlikely to be any change in the company’s shareholder structure and there was no need to go to the stock market for more funds. "We’ve closed the financing of our factory thanks to our Moroccan banking partners and we don’t see any ... kind of capital increase to finance this plant," Drouet said.