Construction industry looking more positive
The situation in the construction industry should be generally favourable in 2018. However, the individual regions/markets and construction sectors will perform differently. In Europe, the recovery should continue. However, despite healthy demand, growth potential in Germany is severely limited due to capacity constraints of installers. A favourable market environment is expected for Austria, France and the Benelux Countries. The construction industry in Switzerland should remain stable at a high level. In the Nordic Countries, the situation for the individual countries is expected to be mixed, with a simultaneous slackening of the growth dynamic. The Eastern European markets are also predicted to perform differently, with a positive environment expected in Poland and a stabilisation anticipated in Russia, for example. A slight easing of the market environment is expected in Italy, whereas a downward trend is foreseeable in the United Kingdom as a result of Brexit. In North America, a moderate recovery is predicted in the institutional construction industry – which is important to Geberit’s business in the USA – along with growth in residential construction. In the Far East/Pacific region, the Chinese residential construction sector has been performing better since the beginning of the second half of 2017. The construction industry in Australia is expected to stagnate and the business climate in India is likely to become more challenging. In terms of the Middle East/Africa region, the Gulf States should recover. However, the construction market in South Africa is likely to stagnate.
Fluctuations in the Swiss franc compared to other important currencies used by the Geberit Group will continue to affect sales and results. Gains and losses result mainly from the translation of local results into Swiss francs (translation effects). In general, the effects of currency fluctuations on margins are minimised to the greatest possible extent with an efficient natural hedging strategy. This entails making sure that costs in the various currency areas are incurred in the same proportion in which sales are generated. With regard to the impact of foreign currency effects, please refer to the information and the sensitivity analysis in the Management of currency risks section.
In the first half of 2018, raw material prices are likely to exceed their prior-year level – driven mainly by higher prices for industrial metals and for plastics.
In 2017, the most important milestones regarding the integration of the ceramics business were reached. From 2018, line managers will promote further activities as part of daily business, with the focus on continually optimising and harmonising shared processes and the IT systems, developing combined products, making ongoing improvements in ceramics manufacturing and promoting cultural integration. The objective is to perform strongly across the entire sanitary product business and in all markets and, as in previous years, to gain market shares. There will be concerted marketing of the new products that have been introduced in recent years. Markets in which Geberit products or technologies are still under-represented will be intensely cultivated, and the promising shower toilet business will be expanded further. In line with the Geberit strategy, these measures shall be accompanied by efforts to continuously optimise business processes.
The Board of Directors and the Group Executive Board are convinced that the company is very well equipped for the upcoming opportunities and challenges. The opportunities offered as a result of combining technical know-how in sanitary technology “behind the wall” and design expertise “in front of the wall” will be firmly seized. Experienced and highly motivated employees, a number of promising products that have been launched in recent years and product ideas for the more distant future, a lean and market-oriented organisation, an established cooperation based on trust with the market partners in both commerce and trade, and the Group’s continued solid financial foundation are vital to our future success.