French contractor Eiffage has reported almost static sales in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, although its construction sector sales fell 6.4% for the period.

Consolidated sales for the first quarter of 2015 came to €3.0 billion, a rise of just 0.2% compared with the first quarter of 2014, but the company said this was down 0.5% on a like-for-like basis.

Sales contributed by contracting activities reached €2.5 billion, a drop of 0.2% on a reported basis, but 1.0% on a like-for-like basis.

In the construction sector, Eiffage reported a fall in sales of €789 million in the first quarter – down 6.4% on a reported and like-for-like basis over the same period 12 months earlier.

The company said sales in France in the first quarter declined by 4.6% to €650 million, with business still brisker in the Ile-de-France region.

In the rest of Europe, sales declined by 14.2% to €139 million for the first quarter. There was a fall of 27.3% in the Benelux countries, but sales were up strongly at 30.6% in Poland – a result mainly of the ramping up of work on the Lacina shopping mall in Poznan, the company said.

In the public works sector, Eiffage’s sales were €844 million, which was down by 5.5% on a reported basis and by 7.2% on a like-for-like basis over the same period in 2014.

In France, sales declined by 10.8% to €619 million, particularly in road construction and maintenance, although the company said that it should be remembered that there had been intense activity in the first quarter of 2014 ahead of municipal elections. There was also a decline in civil engineering, with a lower level of activity, as expected, for the Bretagne-Pays de la Loire high-speed rail line project (BPL), Eiffage said.

In the rest of Europe, sales increased by 11.4% to €185 million. They were up by 4.8% in Germany and by more than 39% in Spain, where the company said there had been confirmation of the recovery observed in the last months of 2014.

Outside Europe, sales increased by 21.2% to €40 million, of which €13 million was contributed by recently acquired companies – mainly ICCI in Canada and Puentes y Torones in Colombia, which are both specialised in the construction of civil engineering structures.

The company said that its order book remained solid at €11.7 billion at 1 April, 2015. This represents a decrease of 5.7% compared with 1 April, 2014, although Eiffage said this was a 0.7% increase excluding the BPL project. It added that this was equivalent to 12.1 months of activity in contracting.

Eiffage said its guidance therefore remained for a slight decrease in sales over 2015 as a whole.

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