PPC Cement, the leading supplier of cement in southern Africa, has partnered with Digital Solutions Group to deliver a first to market mobile application designed and customised for those in building and construction in mind, as launched at the 2013 TotallyConcrete Expo.  


\"PPC

\"As a leader in the cement industry, PPC Ltd believes that it is essential for every builder to have all the latest tools available at their exposal. This will enable them to work more efficient and safe money. We believe that this App will do just this and enable every project that uses it to be successful, said Sibongile Mooko, PPC\'s General Manager of Marketing Services.

The easy to use application provides many practical functions for professionals in the building or construction market and avid DIYers in the home, including; a Quantity Calculator that enables the users to accurately calculate the amount of cement needed to complete a job based on the dimensions the user inputs. The application also includes a Weather Watch tool that will advise on the best time of day to lay concrete or build based on the weather forecast and conditions. The Weather Watch tool allows professional master builders to list several locations, where they may monitor the weather conditions across all of their building sites, speeding up the decision making process and prioritisation of jobs to be managed and completed.

Other functionalities include a complete product overview, store locator with Google enabled maps and directions, and FAQ. Says Yaron Assabi, CEO and founder of Digital Solutions Group: \"One of our specialities lies in finding the most appropriate mobile solution that will help a client mobilise their business, products or services toward an enhanced customer experience. The vision behind this application was to allow customers to engage with the PPC Cement brand in an immersive experience, while still offering them access to useful information and tools.

\"This application will assist us in driving a stronger level of engagement with our customer and further cement our brand promise of given you more cement per bag. We believe that this app will effectively eliminate any potential mistakes or miscalculations; saving you both time and money,\" said Mooko.

\"As the leading cement supplier in southern Africa, this app enables us to be with you at every step of the way. The app will calculate how much cement you can buy and where to buy it. By using this App, you will be able to get in touch with PPC and fully benefit all that we have to offer,\" she said.

This launch phase of the application will be available on IOS, Android and BlackBerry operating 6+. \"Though this is the launch phase, we have already begun planning exciting new additions and integrations for phase two that will continue to promote a user friendly experience. Also, we\'ll undertake regular mobile analytics and quality rating surveying to ensure that PPC Cement\'s remains customer relevant while building on greater customer experiences\", concludes Assabi.

The PPC App will be available for download on Google Play and the Apple App Store on 1 June and on the BlackBerry App store on 15 June.

Published in Construction Industry

PPC, southern Africa\'s leading cement supplier, confirmed that it has a taken a decision to withdraw from the South African Cement & Concrete Institute (C&CI).


\"Ketso

The cement company will redirect its funding to various research and development initiatives that will benefit the cement and concrete industry.

This follows an announcement by the C&CI earlier today, subsequent to the resignation of the institute\'s main funding members, that the institute will be closing down.

PPC will now focus on establishing its technical support arm for cement and concrete by:

  • Introducing an online technical information centre that holds over a 100 journals and e-books on cement and concrete
  • Forming a consultation contact centre for technical support
  • Expand on cement and concrete testing services
  • Expand on its PPC Academy to include training courses on cement and concrete
  • Provide financial and technical support to tertiary institutions to develop building materials and civil engineering industries

In line with PPC\'s African expansion strategy, the company will further establish links and partnerships beyond the South African borders. Training and development is a key pillar for PPC and as a result, the cement company is committed to meaningful skills development.

The decision to withdraw from the institute will not impact on PPC\'s quality of products or service delivery.

Published in Company News

Portland Holdings Limited (PHL), PPC’s Zimbabwe subsidiary, has announced that it intends to construct a new cement plant to service the Harare and central Mozambique markets.


\"KetsoThe new plant will have a capacity of approximately one million tons of cement per annum and will coincide with the construction of a separate grinding facility in the neighbouring territory of Tete in Mozambique.

Ketso Gordhan, CEO of PPC said in Harare today, \"In recent years our investment in Zimbabwe has shown strong growth on the back of a more buoyant and stable economy. This together with the fact that PPC has received an indigenisation certificate makes us optimistic about the future of the economy and the country as a whole.\"

The announcement was made during the PHL\'s centenary celebrations in Harare today. PHL was first registered as a company on 6 February 1913 and, similar to its parent company in South Africa, has for 100 years been an integral part of Zimbabwe\'s infrastructure development. Its core cement brand, Unicem, can be found in virtually every key structure in the region from the Harare International Airport to the mighty walls of Kariba Dam.

\"The construction of additional cement capacity will ensure that PPC continues to be a key player in the development of infrastructure in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries. It is totally in line with our stated strategy of growing our non-South African revenue from the current 21% to at least 40% by 2016\" adds Gordhan

The preliminary study for a new plant in the Mashonaland province is at an advanced stage, and a significant investment has already been made in exploration drilling at various locations. PPC has dedicated resources in Zimbabwe and this together with support from PPC\'s head office will now commence with a full scale feasibility study including the selection of an equipment supplier.

Zak Limbada, MD of PHL, said \"Not only will this investment address the expected future increase in cement demand in Zimbabwe, but create employment opportunities, beneficiation of the country\'s mineral reserves, and a significant growth opportunity for our indigenisation partners.\"

Published in Company News

It has taken a long industry slump to get construction firms to change the way they conduct business.


\"KetsoHigh competition for tenders and low profit margins created an urgent need for a different approach.

In road construction and repair, Raubex felt other firms crowd into its space which, at the time, was one of the few areas which still had tenders up for grabs. It was also struck by a critical national shortage of bitumen, which led to project delays and pushed costs up.

The company responded by purchasing a bitumen processor, which improved supply dramatically. It also sought to grow the business to secure its place as a significant road builder. Its investment paid off, the firm expanded and now offers clients (predominantly the SA National Roads Agency) a full list of products such as asphalt, concrete and bitumen, and services such as road construction, rehabilitation and repair.

It has also grown its cash pile, giving teeth to its strategy to expand. Acquisitions, says CEO Rudolf Fourie, could present themselves from the number of Raubex\'s competitors which have been liquidated or are locked in business rescue.

And its recently launched business unit, Raubex Infrastructure, intends tapping into government projects, a new revenue stream. It aims to target solar power, railways, water, mining, telecoms and housing infrastructure. Fourie says construction already offers better prospects, compared to this time last year. Competition levels - particularly in road construction - has begun to drop and margins are expected to increase, albeit slightly.

When industry conditions get tough, being in a position to offer a full value chain of products and services gives Raubex a distinct advantage, says Fourie. In spite of strong competition, the company has still produced better than average margins.

Fourie says Raubex has strengthened its presence in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal. There is still room to expand into other regions, among them the Eastern and Western Cape, and even beyond SA\'s borders. But Raubex\'s strategy is conservative. Fourie says he prefers to work in SA, unless the company can get projects with double digit margins, to justify the higher risk, elsewhere in Africa.

Raubex\'s annual results for the year to February show revenue rose 12% to R5,6bn, while operating profit declined by 9% to R483,8m. The drop is attributed to the R58,8m penalty which Raubex will pay to the competition commission (operating profit would have otherwise increased by 2%). Its operating margin dropped to 8,6% from 10,6% (9,6% without the penalty).

Confidence in the firm has also increased and analysts recommend the share to investors, particularly those with a long-term bias. This week, small construction firm Protech Khuthele released its results for the same period, which show that its strategic turnaround is beginning to bear fruit. Under CEO Antony Page, the company is evolving from an owner-managed culture to what he calls a professionally led construction company.

The strategy has focused on attracting industry specialists, putting in place tighter risk management processes for tender selection, reducing debt, better project management and equipping management with the tools to support decision-making and monitor performance.

Protech\'s turnaround is not complete, but its early successes have led to an unsolicited bid from Eqstra for the shares in Protech that it does not already own. Protech reported a 6% rise in revenue, to R1bn, for the year to February. It says revenue from mining related contracts make up the majority of it, while 23% of revenue was generated outside SA. But its strategy to only bid for higher-margin work has contained its revenue growth.

Operating profit rose to R46m, from a loss of R3,8m previously, and the operating margin increased to 4,5% from 0,4%. Earnings per share jumped to 4,4c from a loss of 3,1c. Its net debt to equity ratio is 11%, compared with 64% a year ago. And cash is up 74%.

Cement producer PPC also released results for the year to February. It exceeded its own growth target of 4%, by achieving a 6% improvement in cement sales during the first half of the 2013 financial year. Sales increased in the inland markets, as well as in the Western Cape, where investment has been low in recent years.

However, sales of lime and aggregates dropped by 20%, causing the division\'s revenue to drop by 16%. Weak cement sales in Botswana, strikes at the Medupi power station and the rising market share of cheap imports were other factors that affected its performance. PPC has long planned to diversify away from SA - where cement is oversupplied. By 2016, it wants to increase overseas sales to 40%, from 21% at the moment.

To do this, it has set in motion plans to increase its sales by 3Mt. Projects in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo are all set to be completed by the end of 2015. PPC CEO Ketso Gordhan also wants to increase sales by wading into public-private partnerships. He has already had informal discussions with government and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. Locally, Gordhan has accepted that imported cement, primarily from Pakistan, is a growing threat. The market share of imports rose to 6,6%, compared with 6% six months ago, according to Gordhan.

PPC has abandoned its plans to appeal to the national regulator for compulsory specifications about the quality and mislabelling of imported cement, saying most of its concerns have been addressed. However, Gordhan says it may still approach the International Trade Administration Commission with a view that imports are stealing the market share of local firms.

PPC\'s revenue increased by 8% to R3,8bn. Operating profit dropped by 12% to R751m, though this is largely attributed to its Zimbabwean indigenisation deal and a charge related to its empowerment deal. EPS ended 21% lower at 62c.Meanwhile, Stefanutti Stocks says it has overcome problems in its buildings division, which led to penalties levied on the firm because of late completion. But Stefanutti was hit hard by a huge R323m penalty, payable to the competition commission for collusive activity.

Stefanutti\'s revenue for the financial to February increased by 17% to R9,4bn. Operating profit declined by 35% to R234m, largely because of the penalties. This resulted in a drop of its operating margin from 4,5% to 2,5%.

Source FM

Published in Construction Industry
Wednesday, 26 June 2013 12:47

PPC launches online news desk service

PPC pulls its funding for the Cement and Concrete Institute‚ which closed its doors at the end of April.


\"\\"Ketso\"PPC said on Tuesday it had pulled its funding for the Cement and Concrete Institute (C&CI)‚ which closed its doors at the end of April‚ because the defunct 75-year-old industry body had failed to continue to provide the services it needed.

Since then‚ the cement maker has employed three former C&CI senior staff. CEO Ketso Gordhan said that following the closure‚ PPC felt it had an obligation to provide the industry with regular updates.

On Tuesday‚ the group launched an online “news desk service”. This follows on the heels of a mobile application launched earlier this month that includes a product overview and digital store locator.

“PPC felt it was not getting the necessary support or benefit from investing in the institute‚” the company’s executive for strategy and investor relations‚ Kevin Odendaal‚ said. “We felt service had been reduced over time.”

The closure of C&CI comes at a time of profound change in southern African cement and concrete markets. In February‚ two major South African-based cement producers‚ Afrisam and Lafarge‚ also resigned as main co-funders of the C&CI after PPC withdrew its support.

On May 2‚ a diluted version of the C&CI‚ the nonprofit The Concrete Institute‚ opened its doors. Along with Afrisam and Lafarge‚ the new body is co-funded by Sephaku Cement‚ majority-owned by Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote‚ a billionaire businessman.

The Concrete Institute employs about half of the former C&CI’s staff and is headed up by its old MD‚ Bryan Perrie. Perrie said the new body had a “totally different mandate” and was now not representative of the whole industry.

But it would offer most of the services provided by the C&CI‚ including “vital concrete technology services”‚ an information centre‚ advisory service‚ consulting‚ and industry publications.

However‚ the new body would not continue with the C&CI’s concrete marketing activities‚ leaving this to individual companies. It said this would help contain operational costs.

“What is important about the body is that it is a central‚ independent organisation‚” says Sephaku Cement CEO Pieter Fourie. “We believe in the pivotal role of this industry body which‚ by virtue of the services that it offers‚ is a necessity‚” Fourie said.

“Concrete is often ‘common ground’ across different industries. Because of this‚ participation by sectors such as construction and manufacturing is important to heighten the value the industry body can generate‚” he said.

It is also hoped the Concrete Institute will play a role in uniting other representative bodies in the built environment space‚ so they can present a more cohesive front to the government. The state has embarked on a R4-trillion infrastructure programme over 15 years. This includes cross-border projects according to Minister of Economic Development‚ Ebrahim Patel‚ although in this regard‚ little is clear at present.

Grant Neser‚ Afrisam sales and marketing executive‚ said the new body intended to invite such industry bodies to help guide the direction of the institute by sitting on its board.

“One of the biggest challenges we face in the built environment is the slow delivery of government-backed projects. The private sector has not been effective in engaging government on ways to unlock delivery‚ mainly because the built environment private sector has been so fragmented in its approach.”

Neser said the C&CI had played an invaluable role in promoting the interests and general advancement of the cement and concrete industries in southern Africa. He said its closure prompted many parties to lament the loss of this important knowledge repository.

“Its value lay in the fact that the C&CI was an industry body that represented the entire industry‚ and the information it disseminated and the position that it represented was completely independent and professional and in no way biased in favour of the cement producers or a particular supplier‚” he said.

“Afrisam always supports industry bodies that add value to our industry and we quickly realised that this body was too important to disappear from the business arena. We decided to take action and when we approached Lafarge and Sephaku with a proposal to jointly fund a new‚ more compact and cost-effective body‚ they readily agreed — for the same reasons.”

Published in Construction Industry

Improvement in South African and Zimbabwean cement sales help support PPC\'s results in the interim period ended March.


\"KetsoAn improvement in South African and Zimbabwean cement sales helped support PPC\'s results in the interim period ended March SA\'s premier cement maker said on Thursday.

But a fall in demand for lime in the period due to challenges in SA\'s steel and alloys industries saw operating profit plunge by more than half to R41m from R95m last year.

Cash generated from operations up 20% with normalised earnings per share increasing by 4%.

However despite the group saying it had seen tangible progress with its Africa expansion strategy and had resolved technical issues at its Dwaalboom plant in Limpopo costs of sales of R2.6bn were 9% higher on the back of electricity and depreciation costs which rose by 18% and 11% respectively.

We are pleased to report that PPC\'s cement sales volumes in Zimbabwe and SA have increased for the period new CEO Ketso Gordhan said.

This encouraging trend was however tempered by weakness in cement sales in Botswana as well as lower demand in the lime and aggregates divisions he said.

Total cement sales volumes rose by 6% for the period mainly as a result of continued strong growth in Zimbabwe and an improvement in South African cement volumes.

Group revenue rose 8% to R3.8bn on the back of increased volumes improved cement pricing and the favourable devaluation of the rand against the US dollar and Botswana pula.

But revenue was affected by a 16% drop in revenue for the group\'s lime division as a result of a 20% decline in lime sales volumes.

Administration and other operating expenditure increased by 19% to R381m because of additional costs incurred in executing the group\'s African expansion drive including the finalisation of the acquisition of the Cimerwa cement group in Rwanda.

Cimerwa sold 51% of its equity to PPC for cash of $69m. The Rwandan group\'s capacity of 100 000 tons of cement a year is being increased to 600000 tons per annum that will be commissioned during 2014.

PPC\'s cash generated from operations rose to a little more than R1bn from R889m previously.

At 12.15pm on the JSE PPC share price was down 2.9% at R33.73.

Published in Construction Industry
Thursday, 16 May 2013 13:06

PPC interim normalised EPS up 4% to 83c

Cement producer PPC reports 4% increase in its normalised earnings per share to 83c in the six months ended March 2013.


\"KetsoCement producer PPC Limited (PPC) on Thursday reported its normalised earnings per share (EPS) rose by 4% to 83 cents in the six months ended March 2013. Earnings per share were 21% lower at 62 cents.

An unchanged interim dividend of 38 cents per share was declared.

The company reported an improvement in cement sales volumes in Zimbabwe and South Africa but lower cement sales in Botswana as well as lower demand in the lime and aggregates divisions.

The company remains optimistic that it would continue to progress with further projects in line with our stated strategy in the rest of Africa in the near future.

Group revenue increased by 8% to R3.812bn. Revenue was impacted by a 16% drop in revenue for the lime division as a result of a 20% decline in sales volumes.

Costs of sales of R2.569bn were 9% higher with electricity and depreciation rising by 18% and 11% respectively. Lower coal costs helped to offset these.

Cash generated from operations rose to R1.070bn from R889m.

Exports to Mozambique declined further and continue to be impacted by increased competition largely due to cement imported from Asia.

The company said it is making good progress with its strategy to grow into the rest of the African continent. The construction of the Habesha cement plant in Ethiopia has been delayed due to some initial financing constraints however it is confident these constraints will be overcome and that plant construction will commence in October 2013.

Following the acquisition of Rwanda\'s only cement producer Cimerwa Ltd both PPC\'s technical and project teams are now providing Cimerwa with onsite support.

The positive trend in South African cement demand is expected to continue in the near to medium term. The key to improved growth in South Africa remains the governments execution of their infrastructure programme.

Published in Construction Industry
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 13:00

PPC H1 HEPS seen 20% lower

PPC expects its headline earnings per share in the six months to March to drop by 20% from the similar period a year earlier.


Construction group PPC (PPC) expects its headline earnings per share in the six months to March to drop by 20% from the similar period a year earlier.

The earnings were impacted by the costs associated with its second broad-based black economic empowerment deal and relating to the indigenisation transaction undertaken at PPC\'s Zimbabwean operations.

The interim results are expected on May 16.

Published in Construction Industry
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