Lafarge taps George construction boom

Posted On Tuesday, 30 May 2006 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Global construction material producer Lafarge has firmed its foothold in the booming Garden Route construction market.

Construction IndustryGlobal construction material producer Lafarge has firmed its foothold in the booming Garden Route construction market with the opening in George last month of a new distribution centre.

This follows the company's acquisition in October last year of Knysna Quarry for an undisclosed sum. The distribution centre, Lafarge Gypsum, supplies contractors in the residential and commercial construction industry.

Lafarge Gypsum national sales manager Andries Geldenhuys said increased tourism to George and the Garden Route had attracted enormous investment to these regions.

"We already had branches in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Strand, but that left a gap servicing everything in between George, Mossel Bay, Knysna and Graaff-Reinet.

"We already had a customer base down there, but they found it frustrating sourcing our products in that area, and having to transport it from the Cape or PE. It seemed worthwhile to open a distribution centre there to satisfy the demand for our products," Geldenhuys said.

Lafarge Gypsum has employed four staff in George, and hired a local company to manage its deliveries.

Geldenhuys said: "Our main line of business is supplying contractors, but we?ve also moved into the DIY market. In the past it was common practice to install nail-up ceilings. But now people want something unusual with special finishes and effects."

The company has also recently set up similar distribution centres in Kenya, Tanzania and Mauritius.

Lafarge's acquisition of Knysna Quarry was aimed at enhancing the company's aggregate and sand supply to the market.

The quarry, known since October as Lafarge Knysna Quarry, supplies aggregates to Knysna, Sedgefield and surrounding areas. A sand operation was included in the purchase.

The quarry?s 15 employees have been retained and will be retrained to Lafarge's operational standards.

Lafarge spokesman Ilse Boshoff said: "The area as a whole is doing very well and so we felt the need to expand our footprint to better supply the market. The main demand comes from residential developments, although commercial demand remains strong."

She said the company had in the past mostly invested in mobile plants for the Eastern Cape to ensure more flexible aggregate supply in areas that were not strategic to the company's fixed plants.

Lafarge also operates Witfontein Quarry in George, and ready-mixed concrete plants in Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, and Plettenberg Bay.


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