Currency fluctuations contributed significantly (3.8%) to sales growth, owing to the appreciation of Scandinavian currencies and the currencies of the Group's main emerging markets - especially the Brazilian real - against the euro. On a constant exchange rate basis*, sales therefore rose 1.7%.
Changes in Group structure had a slightly positive impact, representing 0.3% of sales growth over the period.
On a like-for-like basis (constant Group structure and exchange rates), consolidated sales climbed 1.4% over the nine months to September 30, 2010, including a positive 0.8% volume impact and a positive 0.6% price effect.
In the third quarter alone, consolidated sales surged 7.8% to EUR10,478 million from EUR9,720 million in the three months to September 30, 2009. Organic growth was 2.3% (reflecting a positive 0.7% volume impact and a positive 1.6% price effect). This followed organic growth of 3.9% in the second quarter, including a positive 3.1% volume impact (1.4% of which was attributable to a higher number of working days) and a positive 0.8% price effect, and negative organic growth of 2.4% in the first three months of the year (reflecting a negative 1.7% volume impact and a negative 0.7% price effect).
Based on a constant number of working days, this third-quarter trading performance confirms the upturn in sales volumes observed in the three months to June 30, 2010, despite a much tougher basis for comparison (sales volumes fell 12.9% in third-quarter 2009, versus a decline of 17.1% in the second quarter of that year).
The upward trend in sales prices - which also began in the second quarter - intensified in the three months to September 30, 2010, reflecting the price increases implemented in all of the Group's Business Sectors and divisions over the past few months.
Exchange rates for the first nine months of 2009.
Along the lines of the second quarter, the Group's organic growth in the three months to September 30, 2010 continued to be driven by the emerging countries and Asia region and by the Innovative Materials Sector, which both reported double-digit growth. The second-quarter recovery of Group businesses linked to European construction gathered pace, despite a tougher basis for comparison. In contrast, businesses related to North American construction markets were hit by the repercussions of over-optimistic expectations from distributors, whose restocking had inflated first-half figures. Household consumption remained stable over the period.