Pilkington: Strategy tour sets priorities

"Pilkington has proved it can be the best. Now we must generate cash so that we can invest in our future expansion and growth," group chief executive Stuart Chambers has told audiences around the Group.

Touring major operations to outline Group priorities, Stuart said : "We've made considerable progress over the past five years in productivity, overheads and return on sales. I consider the step change 85 per cent done. But the cash we have invested in our businesses has been very significant and it's payback time. We must now prove that our businesses can generate net free cash to secure our future - and I am confident we can.

Despite current tough market conditions, glass remains very much a growth market and there is no reason why Pilkington cannot prosper in this industry - but we need to raise our game."

Pilkington has a clear set of priorities necessary to achieve these objectives, said Stuart. "We must have the lowest possible level of overheads and working capital. We must operate all our plants at world-class performance levels and we must ensure that Quality and Safety are at the front of our minds in everything we do."

Stuart's confidence in Pilkington achieving these targets comes from looking at the recent past. "Taking overheads as an example, we've shown what we can do by reducing the ratio of overheads to sales from a crippling 30 per cent in 1998 to 21 per cent today - a massive £250 million reduction. Now we need to finish the job by getting to 19 per cent."

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