Business / Companies

French construction firm bullish on China

By Wu Yiyao ( Updated: 2015-01-09 16:05

Compagnie de Saint-Gobain SA, a leading French habitat and construction company, launched its 350th anniversary celebration events in Shanghai Friday to get closer to end users and leverage more opportunities brought by China's economic reforms.

Javier Gimeno, chief executive officer of Saint-Gobain Asia-Pacific, said the Fortune 500 company is eyeing the expanding market of high-quality materials created by the rising middle class in China and fast urbanization process.

Saint-Gobain China total sales forecast for the financial year of 2014 will be 1.1 billion euros ($1.30 billion), accounting for some 50 percent of Asia-Pacific's total.

The company has been operating in China for three decades, and aims to have more market shares in habitat and construction materials, especially glasses and mortar, Gimeno said.

Saint-Gobain has been looking into some niche markets in China, including the automotive glass plant.

Demand of total China market for passenger cars has been growing at a fast pace- in 2013 it was 20.9 million sets, and in 2014 the number jumped to 23 million, according to Saint-Gobain data.

The company has invested more than 40 million euros in a plant for automotive glass in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province and a new automotive industry hub.

"China's fast urbanization process will also bring about more demand for high-end construction glass, which will benefit Saint Gobain's growth in the country," said Gimeno.

World's demand for flat glass is forecast to grow 6.6 percent per annum to some 10 billion square meters in 2018, reaching a combined value at $102 billion, according to a report by Freedonia Group Inc, an industry market research provider.

"China is expected to continue to be the world's fastest growing market for flat glass through 2018," the Freedonia report said.

China dominates flat glass consumer market in the Asia Pacific, representing 58 percent of the regional total on a value basis so far, the report said.

Rising demands for construction materials will also benefit other business arms of the company, and demands for mortar will be grow fast, said Gimeno.

Saint-Gobain has set up three plants for mortar in China, and will invest in a new plant in Wuhan in 2015, according to Gimeno.

In the financial year of 2014 total annual sales of mortar is forecast at 61 million euros, according to the company's data.

Hot Topics

Editor's Picks