While the North American aggregates division has been trading in good markets overall, helped by better weather conditions in the east and higher cement deliveries in California, trading in the American building products business has been more mixed. Bricks and tiles are performing well on the back of a continued good housebuilding market and the acquisition of Athens Brick, but shipments of concrete pipes have suffered from bad weather and higher raw material costs.
The British aggregates operations have suffered from lower volumes, notably in ready-mixed concrete and blacktop, thought pricing trends remain positive. Additionally, higher pension costs are having to be borne. A similar trend of good pricing but disappointing volumes has been experienced in the brick business. The Continental European operations show little overall change. Elsewhere, Australia provides an encouraging picture with higher volumes in both ready-mixed concrete and aggregates, but the Far Eastern operations have suffered from lower volumes.