A European sales rise of +17,6% for French-based Eiffage Construction was reported for the first quarter of 2011, although sales in its home market were down -4,7% on last year.

The group said that the fall in French sales to € 662 million was because of a lag in order intake experienced in 2009. It added that order intake had since rebounded, with the order book recovering to a level in line with the growth expected this year.

Overall construction sales were € 831 million, which it said was +0,8% down on the first quarter last year.

In the rest of Europe, sales increased to € 169 million. There was a rise of +8,4% year-on-year in sales in Benelux, while sales doubled in Poland. Eiffage said conditions remained difficult in the Czech Republic, where sales declined by -4,1% at constant exchange rates.

Public works sales of € 741 million were up by +5,7%. In France, Eiffage Travaux Publics recorded sales of € 661 million - up +3,6%.

Eiffage said weather conditions were more favourable than in the first quarter of 2010, which helped road construction and related activities to record a +17,9% increase in sales.

On the other hand, civil engineering and earth moving were down year-on-year. Eiffage said this was mainly because work on the A65 motorway had finished.

Public works sales in the rest of Europe increased by +10,3%. The group said there was a strong increase of 27,5% in Germany, although the economic situation in Spain continued to affect its operations there, with sales declining by -7,1%.

Among its highlights in the first quarter, Eiffage cited its being chosen for the public-private partnership (PPP) to design, build, maintain and finance the Bretagne Pays-de-la-Loire (BPL) high-speed rail link. It said it had now secured all the financing and that the corresponding agreements were in the process of being finalised.

Consolidated sales for the Eiffage Group, which also includes energy and metal, totalled almost € 3 billion in the first quarter of 2011.

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