Construction professionals discuss market and Intermat's role

By Maria Hadlow14 April 2009

Alexandre Saubot, Haulotte's chief operating officer.

Alexandre Saubot, Haulotte's chief operating officer.

At the end of March a group of eminent French construction professionals, including Haulotte's managing director Alexandre Saubot, took part in a round table discussion organised by Maryvonne Lanoe, the Intermat exhibition manager. The purpose of the meeting was to take stock of the factors affecting the construction sector less than a month before Intermat.

The participants agreed that the international construction industry is worth $5000 billion, and the materials and equipment industry - which is upstream of it, and closely linked to it - is worth nearly $80 billion. Xavier Timbeau, director of the Analysis & Forecasting Department at France's economic research centre said, "We are currently in the grips of an economic crisis the likes of which we have not seen before. Things are still getting worse, and we'll have to wait until 2010 before there are any signs of recovery - recovery that will calm the crisis of 2009."

The company directors at the meeting believed there were some positive signs; Mr Saubot said he had witnessed, "a sharp and dramatic fall in sales which is also affecting the hire companies, which are having to deal with a less than buoyant credit market. But it's worth remembering that what people don't buy today they will buy tomorrow."

It was hoped that French Government and local authority initiatives would be enough to sustain the industry over the difficult period. Maryvonne Lanoe said that she believed that the Intermat exhibition would have a key role to play, "It serves as a barometer of both supply and demand, "she said, "and will play an important part in supporting the various recovery plans in France, throughout the rest of Europe and even the US. It's an opportunity to think about what the industry will be like after the crisis has passed."

Intermat reported that pre-registration is 8% higher for this year's exhibition than it was in 2006. These figures are being interpreted as an indication that all the industry professionals in the construction materials and equipment sector are rallying together for this event.

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