This represents a decline of 14.8% on a reported basis and 12.9% at constant exchange rates.* Changes in Group structure accounted for a 1.9% increase in sales. This was almost entirely offset by the 1.8% negative currency effect, due for the most part to the slide in the British pound and Brazilian real against the euro, which was not offset by the climb in the US dollar.
On a like-for-like basis, consolidated net sales contracted by 14.9%. Sales prices remained robust, gaining 2.3%, while volumes slumped 17.2%.
The sharp downturn in trading conditions observed in fourth-quarter 2008 intensified in the first quarter of 2009 as the economic climate continued to deteriorate, with virtually every country across the globe now affected. In addition, sales in the first two months of the year were weighed down by particularly unfavorable weather conditions in both Europe and the United States.
Construction markets continued to decline – even in the United States where activity had picked up during the second half of 2008 – and the downturn in industrial markets observed at the end of last year deepened in the first quarter, impacting sharply the High-Performance Materials and Flat Glass businesses.
Only the household consumption market (Packaging) remained relatively less affected by the worsening economic conditions.
* Based on average exchange rates for first-quarter 2008.