French Group Saint-Gobain plans to invest EUR 8.1 million this year, with Saint-Gobain Glass, Rigips and Isover as the main investors, following its aim to become the world reference in the sustainable Habitat, and investments of more than EUR 265 million on the Romanian market.
In the past 20 years, the local construction and construction materials market experienced two distinct phases, according to Constantin Hariton, deputy delegate for Saint-Gobain Group and general manager of Saint-Gobain Construction Products, Rigips Business Unit.
From the early 1990s until 2008 and even 2009, the segment saw a steady growth, with maximum intensity in the years before the crisis. Within those years, Romania had borrowed and absorbed Western know-how in terms of building materials types, techniques, solutions and work equipment, a process being strongly supported by the continuously growing construction market sector.
However, in line with the economic crisis, the construction market fell onto a downward slope. In the last five years, the construction sector, including human resources and investments involved in the process, fell by 40%, reaching only EUR 3 billion. “Unfortunately, the market was affected by the speculative nature of the growth,” said Hariton. “A lot of investments were made without having a real demand behind. Thus, big investors retired or were forced to sell their investments at low prices, with dramatic effects on the entire sector of construction materials.”
However, Hariton also sees the full half of the glass, saying that along with the challenges, companies have begun to restructure their activities, to look more attentively at their costs, to invest more in innovation and research and to improve both technical performance and parameters. Moreover, the companies have also begun to consider, with a higher interest, the problems of the sustainability, energy efficiency, environmental protection and “to increase the level of professionalism of their employees.”
In this context, French Group Saint-Gobain, in its aim to become the world reference in the sustainable Habitat, has invested more than EUR 265 million on the local market. The group counts eight activities organized and structured within four companies: Saint-Gobain Construction Products Romania, which includes Isover (insulating products), Rigips (plasterboard and plaster systems), PAM (ductile cast iron systems) and Weber (production of adhesives and mortars); Saint-Gobain Glass Romania, which includes Glass (production of float, coated and laminated glass) and Abrazivi (production of abrasives); Saint-Gobain Brodrene Dahl (pipe and accessories supplier for ships); and MTI Impex (wooden products manufacturer). Moreover, the company plans to invest another EUR 8.1 million this year, with Saint-Gobain Glass, Rigips and Isover as the main investors.