Our activity performance
Bekaert’s activities in North America achieved almost 8% sales growth and a significant improvement in profitability. Passed-on higher wire rod prices and price-mix effects combined with more than 3% volume increase boosted an organic growth of almost 10%.
Automotive, industrial and specialty steel wire markets performed well in 2017. As anticipated, sales volumes were lower in the last quarter of the year due to the normal seasonality impacts. The adverse effects of a weaker USD in the second half of the year had a significant impact on both sales and profitability, year-on-year.
The transformation programs put in place in the region have had a material impact on the 2017 performance. The combined approach in implementing manufacturing, supply chain and commercial excellence have led to a stronger organization, better segmentation, and increased cost competitiveness. The underlying EBIT increased by 28% to € 33 million at a margin of 6%. The segment also reported a significant increase in EBITDA and ROCE margins compared with the previous reporting periods.
Capital expenditure (PP&E) was € 13 million in North America. The major expansion plan for the Rogers (Arkansas) plant was put on hold due to the uncertainty about changes in US trade policy, which might significantly increase the cost of imported wire rod in the future. Bekaert has to import raw material or finished goods into the US because the local steel mills cannot supply the specific wire rod grades needed to produce tire cord.