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SIG: Construction decline "slowing"

Construction materials supplier SIG has said that it is seeing a “slowing of the rate of decline” in the construction sector.

While like-for-like sales were down by 20 per cent in the UK and Ireland, the company’s interim management statement today was otherwise upbeat, as it predicted demand in many sectors would level out in 2010.

It revealed however that it had now made 2,600 “staff reductions” since launching a cost-saving programme in 2008, and made 141 branch closures.

Referring to its sales, it said that they had been “broadly in line with management’s expectations in the second half of 2009…accordingly, while there are some risks to trading volumes for the remainder of the year, it is anticipated that underlying profit before tax will be in line with current market expectations.”

The group is still weighed under by significant debts, having raised £325 million earlier this year to pay down its obligations.

The company said: “At 30 June 2009, the Group’s net debt stood at £276 million. The strengthening of the Euro since 30 June 2009 has increased the Group’s debt by £14 million since the half year.”

SIG’s retrofit insulation division is yet to see an upturn from green initiatives too, it said. “Despite the 20 per cent uplift to the current CERT (Carbon Emissions Reduction Target) scheme approved in July 2009 and the further one year planned extension to 2012 of the existing arrangement, Miller Pattison, which installs retrofit insulation in homes, has so far seen little evidence of a release of additional funding from the energy providing utilities and consequently the autumn sales trend has been subdued.”