Turnover at Imerys declined by 4.7 per cent to €2,729.2m as exchange rate movements took their toll, but at the underlying level there was a 2.8 per cent increase. The EBITDA emerged 5.1 per cent lower at €501.5m. The negative currency effect was largely restricted to the minerals-based operations that operate in global markets. Helped by lower depreciation and interest costs, the running profit before tax rose by 10.6 per cent to €326.0m. Net debt fell by 14.9 per cent to €986.3m and the gearing level from 78.8 per cent to 69.9 per cent.
The building materials division, which is only active in Europe, increased turnover by 5.0 per cent to €652.1m (23.9 per cent of the group total) and the trading profit rose by 7.2 per cent to €130.2m. Clay products in France represents 57 per cent of the division’s turnover, with distribution and slate adding a further 39 per cent, with operations in the rest of Europe, primarily the Iberian peninsula, contributing just four per cent. Clay tile deliveries in France rose by 3.3 per cent, helped by a particularly strong fourth quarter. At the end of February, Imerys acquired the Hungarian refractories business Burton-Apta, which is being incorporated into the kiln furniture arm of the specialist minerals division.