First half turnover rose by 21.6% to EUR5,670.4m and the operating profit at the EBITDA level advanced by 35.3% to EUR624.4m, with the trading profit jumping by 57.2% to EUR384.6m. Excluding acquisitions and exchange rate effects, turnover rose by 8.3% and the trading profit by 28.5%. The improvement in margins reflected better weather in both North America and Europe as was well as a modest overall improvement in the markets served by the group.
Construction activity in the Republic of Ireland improved by around 10% EUR385.7m during the period and group turnover was ahead by 9.2%. The trading profit, however, declined by 0.6% to EUR68.2m, principally reflecting price pressures in concrete and other downstream activities. A modest cement price increase was introduced in April, but the main effect of this will only be seen in the second half. New housing remains particularly buoyant and completions are forecast to rise by just over 10% on top an 18% increase last year.
In great Britain and Northern Ireland, turnover rose by 7.5% to EUR366.5m, which represents a growth rate of some 6% in local currency, and the trading profit improved by 7.8% to EUR31.7m. The Northern Irish operations reported increased activity and higher profits, while in Britain brick deliveries were slightly lower, but prices and profits improved. Concrete products volumes improved, but there was a decline in the insulation division.