Aggregate Industries increased turnover by UK£5.9m in 2003 to UK£1458.9m (US$2392.6m) but unfavourable trading conditions in the United States and a falling US dollar reduced the increase in the operating profit at the EBITDA level to just 0.9 per cent to UK£241.2m (US$395.6m) and the trading profit (EBIT) emerged a marginal 0.4 per cent lower at UK£167.5m (US$274.7m). Thanks to a much reduced interest charge, the pre-tax profit still increased by 4.2 per cent to UK£140.1m (US$229.8m). The global aggregates tonnage advanced by 1.8 per cent to 66.4Mt and ready-mixed concrete deliveries rose by around 11 per cent to 7.0m cu.m while production of asphalt and concrete products both increased by some 0.1Mt to 11.8Mt and 3.7Mt respectively.
The European operations, dominated by Great Britain, but also including businesses in the Channel Islands and Norway, reported an increase in turnover of 14.9 per cent to UK£819.8m (€11187.1m), with the trading profit being 13.0 per cent higher at UK£95.6m (€138.4m). While crushed rock volumes were down by some two per cent, there was a 10 per cent increase in sand & gravel and in the expanding ready-mixed concrete business deliveries grew by a fifth to 2.3m cu.m and Paragon Materials, the cement import operation in which the shareholding has been raised from 55 per cent to 87.5 per cent, handled 0.17Mt of grey cement last year. With the full year’s contribution from the Glasgow and Ellesmere Port terminals and the opening of a fourth import terminal at Plymouth in late spring, volumes this year should approach 0.3Mt, including white cement from Turkey. The Plymouth terminal will be supplied by Aalborg Portland under a medium term contract that also includes supplies to other terminals.
In the United States, turnover fell by 4.0 per cent to UK£634.5m (US$1040.6m) and trading profit dropped by 14.9 per cent to UK£69.7m (US$114.3m). The lower dollar, weak markets in Colorado and poor weather during the first half were behind the reduced US contribution and underlying volumes were lower in all product ranges except for crushed rock. The worst performance came from the ready-mixed concrete operations in Colorado, where volumes fell by 11 per cent and prices by six per cent. On the other hand, record dollar profits were achieved in the Mid-Atlantic area in spite of adverse weather affecting the business badly during the first half. Aggregate Industries has recently negotiated a cement supply contract with Lafarge North America, as a result of which Lafarge will take over from Holcim as the principal supplier to the group’s North American operations.