BASF increases sales by 27%

The multinational chemical company, with a strong presence in Catalonia, increases sales in Spain in the first quarter of 2010 despite the effects of the economic crisis in the construction and automobile sectors.

Alba Falcó Vila

June 23, 2010 04:51 AM

Barcelona (CNA).- BASF closed the first quarter of 2010 with a 27% recovery in sales turnover to Spanish customers over the same period in 2009, and a figure of 26% for the group overall. The international chemical company, which has a strong presence in Catalonia, has recovered after a “tough” 2009 in which sales in Spain fell by 25% and where the overall decrease was 19%. BASF is “coming out stronger from the crisis”, said Erwin Rahue, the head of the BASF group’s activities in Spain, during a press conference in Barcelona.
Construction and car manufacturing are the main sectors in Spain and Catalonia which nourish BASF. That is why the drop in sales in Spain was greater than that of the global group. Despite this, Rauhe said that prospects have improved in the case of the automobile industry because of the solid evolution of car exports to other countries. He also pointed out that BASF provides material to leading automotive plants in Spain and that a great many of these sales are made abroad.

The construction sector will take more time to recover, according to Rauhe. He believes investment cutbacks in public works may halt recovery in the sector. Rauhe said the company should fully back the construction materials plant, located in Palau-Solità i Plegamans, which suffered serious staff cuts last year.

Rauhe commented that sales figures during the first quarter of 2010 were similar to those in 2008. The financial and economic outlook has improved in Spain and in Europe in general in the early months of the year and the company is now “more flexible, more efficient and has less costs” after the crisis led to serious restructuring plans. “Now we need to know if it is just a seasonal peak” he added. The manager positively valued the austerity measures taken by the Spanish Government, but added that further measures are needed to encourage growth.

Regarding the plant in Tarragona, Rauhe highlighted the importance of the plant which is now the largest in southern Europe and employs about 700 people. He said that BASF had already closed one of the plants last year because of the crisis but that now factory use stood at 80%, which is above the global average.

The commercial director of BASF, Carlos Navarro, said that one of BASF's main concerns now is sustainability given that the demand for products and services which help control energy consumption or contribute to environmental protection has greatly increased. In fact, two of the major projects that the company is working on at present in Catalonia are along these lines. BASF has worked with Incasol (Catalan Land Institute) and the Catalan Ministry of Environment and Housing to build 112 subsidized apartments in Cerdanyola del Vallès that are designed as sustainable buildings. Navarro has announced that the company has carried out consulting work so that the houses consume the least energy possible.