Northern and Eastern Europe
UK, Ireland and South Africa
In € millions
Our activities in Europe performed well during 2008, even though economic conditions were challenging. We increased market share and profitability in Continental Europe, while in Northern and Eastern Europe, good organic growth was achieved and margins held. In the UK, Ireland and South Africa region, we continued to invest in innovation and put particular emphasis on further establishing sustainability as a core element of our strategy.
Market conditions were difficult but margins held up well, notably in Northern and Eastern Europe. The Continental Europe business had to contend with the collapse of various construction companies in the south of the continent, yet still achieved strong profitability. Building Adhesives managed to grow moderately and improve its market position in the most important markets. A key priority across all businesses was concentrated on integration activities and benefiting from the synergies of AkzoNobel’s acquisition of ICI. Cost savings were identified and an operational excellence program designed to increase EBIT was introduced. Brand portfolio rationalization was another focus of attention. In Northern and Eastern Europe for example, the portfolio will be revised to just 12 strategic brands in order to reduce complexity and enhance market leadership. Positioning all activities for future profitability remains paramount.