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French manufacturer Saint-Gobain reported sales for the first quarter increased 12.2 percent to €9.8 billion (US$14.3 billion). Organically, sales increased 9.6 percent.
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"Saint-Gobain's strong first-quarter organic sales growth confirmed the recovery in sales volumes observed in 2010," CEO Pierre-André de Chalendar said. "The volume upturn is now also driven by the rebound in residential construction and renovation markets in Europe, amplified by much better weather conditions than in first-quarter 2010."
All of the Group’s business sectors reported robust growth for the quarter, with Innovative Materials and Building Distribution delivering double-digit gains.
Innovative Materials organic growth was 11.8 percent. Markets related to industrial output and capital expenditure continued to benefit from robust momentum across all regions, particularly emerging countries and Asia. Flat Glass reported 10.8% organic growth, powered mainly by volume gains. High-performance materials posted a 13.5 percent rise in sales.
Construction Products sales moved up 6.4 percent, reflecting improved market conditions and sales price advances in most Western and Eastern European countries, as well as ongoing robust momentum in Asia and emerging countries. In contrast, persistent weakness in the construction market continued to affect trading in the US.
Interior Solutions reported 8.4 percent organic growth, primarily due to an upturn in sales in Western Europe, driven by better weather conditions and stricter energy-efficient housing regulations. Exterior Solutions posted 4.7 percent organic growth.
Building Distribution reported double-digit organic growth of 10.8 percent. The sector’s main markets (France, UK, Germany and Scandinavia) enjoyed a significant acceleration in growth over the quarter.
Packaging (Verallia) also benefited from the improvement in the global economic environment, posting a 7.2 percent jump in sales. Sales volumes were up across all geographic regions (particularly Europe and Latin America), while prices remained upbeat, reflecting the rise in the cost of energy and raw materials.
For the first time in three years, all of the Group’s main geographic areas reported robust organic growth in the first quarter, particularly Western Europe.
In France, organic growth came in at 8.8 percent, powered by the sharp rebound in construction-related businesses and ongoing robust trading for businesses related to industrial markets. The sales performance in other Western European countries increased 10.2 percent,
North America delivered 4.4 percent organic growth, primarily due to continued brisk trading for high-performance materials and sales increases for Packaging (Verallia).
Asia and emerging countries posted double-digit growth of 15.6 percent. On top of persistently bullish economic conditions in Latin America and Asia, Eastern Europe rebounded sharply.