Pilkington chairman addresses AGM on performance so far in fiscal 2003

Addressing shareholders at the Annual General Meeting of UK-based Pilkington plc on 28 July 2003, company chairman Sir Nigel Rudd reflected that in fiscal 2002 the company had experienced some of its …

Addressing shareholders at the Annual General Meeting of UK-based Pilkington plc on 28 July 2003, company chairman Sir Nigel Rudd reflected that in fiscal 2002 the company had experienced some of its most difficult trading conditions for many years. However, he noted that in spite of difficulties, “the restructuring of recent years meant that we were still able to produce respectable results. Operating profits fell by 9%, but our increased emphasis on cash generation enabled Pilkington to deliver its strongest cash performance for a decade.” According to the Pilkington chairman, the company“s priorities remained “continued cost reduction, further improvement in manufacturing performance, and a focus on the generation of free cash flow to underpin our financial performance” and underlined that the sale to GKN of Pilkington“s Aerospace business announced 22 July 2003 was consistent with the strategy of focussing on the company“s core Building Products and Automotive businesses. Sir Nigel then considered the performance of Pilkington businesses during the first part of fiscal 2003. He recognised that most Building Products markets remained difficult, although UK trading was stronger than in continental Europe. Further afield, the commercial building market in North America remained challenging, although the benefits of restructuring were expected to be seen in results for 2003. Sir Nigel said the Australian business “continues to perform well” and the restabilization of the Argentinean economy was improving results for South America. Turning to Automotive Glass, the Pilkington chairman said vehicle production in Europe and North America was down on the previous year. Nevertheless, “sales to the OE manufacturers are slightly better, due to strong demand for some key models featuring Pilkington glass”. In Automotive Glass Replacement, demand in Europe was “encouraging” although North America had made “a slow start to the year”. Automotive businesses in South America, Australasia and China were “operating close to or better than last year“s performance, despite variable market conditions.” Sir Nigel concluded by saying that Pilkington had made an encouraging start to 2003 in spite of “the background of challenging market conditions”.