It was generally a challenging year for our European activities, which experienced low levels of activity in housing and construction markets. A tight supply situation for several key raw materials also had an impact. However, while trading conditions were mostly unfavorable, growth was achieved in some regions, along with increases in market share.
Revenue and volumes were up slightly in the UK, where the trade market performed better than expected. We also increased our share of the UK trade market, despite aggressive competition. Conditions proved to be more challenging in Ireland and South Africa, while in Building Adhesives, we increased share in the key markets of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Benelux. Performance was also strong in the Nordics and France. In Northern and Eastern Europe, we were able to increase sales and significantly improve the profitability of the business compared with the previous year. The Turkish market in particular showed healthy growth, while we consolidated our leadership positions in both Russia and Greece. The launch of Dulux in Egypt delivered strong sales, together with good growth from sub-Saharan Africa. Conditions stabilized in Continental Europe, where simplification of our brand portfolio and a number of successful product launches put us in a strong position to compete in the existing economic climate. Although the paint market slowed down in Belgium, the Netherlands and France – mainly on the professional side – a number of valuable acquisitions in the trade area in France have enhanced our position significantly.
We continued to simplify and streamline our business in order to make it more efficient and reduce costs. We also made significant progress with building a global marketing organization, and in aligning brands with different names and local heritage to one common positioning platform. Our innovative capabilities led to the launch of strong concepts in line with customer needs, such as Dulux Architect and Sikkens Healthcare. In the UK, Dulux Trade won a contract to paint the £7.3 billion London 2012 Olympic Games site. We also established a team in the Middle East to help drive growth in the region.
Dulux Ecosense (which has a 50 percent lower carbon footprint) was launched in the UK, where sales of Dulux Trade Ecosure and our waste paint solidifier also continued to grow. Towards the end of the year, the UK launched a consumer waste recycling trial. The Let’s Color campaign proved to be a big success across the region, notably in Turkey, Russia and the Nordics, significantly boosting brand awareness. In Continental Europe, we introduced a high quality Sikkens water-based wall paint regarded as a benchmark product in sustainability. Our business-wide commitment to sustainability also continued, which includes focusing on eco-efficiency and reductions in waste and energy.
Towards the end of the year, we announced the merger of our three Decorative Paints businesses in Europe into one Decorative Paints EMEA business. This will strengthen our leadership positions in this key region.
Revenue in € millions