French cement manufacturer announces plans to grow market share to 50 million tonnes in three years

French cement manufacturer Lafarge, who owns the Blue Circle brand in the UK, is set to drive up its manufacturing capacity in China by a further 7 million tonnes by the end of the year.

Currently the firm is the largest non-Chinese cement manufacturer in the country and, with an annual output of 24 million tonnes, ranks amongst its top 10 producers. However, it is looking to grow its market share with a further 10.5 million tonnes of production capacity under construction, 6.9 million tonnes of which is due to be inaugurated this year.

According to Bruno Lafont, chairman and chief executive of Lafarge, China now represents 15% of the group’s turnover. “Five years ago we took the decision to develop the cement industry in the emerging markets. Our strategy is to continue to grow and increase market share through product innovation, internal development and consolidation with a focus on west China”. He added that the firm is well on track to reach 35 million tonnes of capacity by 2011 rising to 50 million tonnes in the next three years.

The company has 2% of China’s cement market and believes rapid growth will be possible in the coming years even in a weakened global economy, thanks in part to the 2009-2010 stimulus package which has seen £400bn allocated to infrastructure, post-earthquake reconstruction and rural development.

In 2009 China was responsible for 48% of global cement demand, with an annual demand of around 1.6 billion tonnes.