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Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group ends 2002 in profit
Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group
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Company: Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group, Netherlands
Attn: Petra van Zandvoort

Zwijndrecht, 13 May 2002 Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group posted a modest profit of 0.6 million over the 2002 financial year (compared with 0.2 million in 2001). Improved margins, substantial cost savings and lower interest charges all contributed to the positive result. Turnover fell by 12% to 403 million due to difficult market conditions (compared with 460 million in 2001). The operating result went down due to the fact that a decline in pre-tax profits could not be wholly absorbed by lower operating costs; the operating result for 2002 was 4.7 million (compared with 5.4 million in 2001). The result was positively influenced by a decline in interest charges to 2.6 million (2001: 3.7 million). The Groups financial position remains strong, with a sharp increase in solvency of 37.1% (2000: 33.1%).

The improvement in the result was achieved mainly through a radical cost cutting program. This created a more efficient organization and better customer service, as well as substantially reduced cost levels. Despite the poor market conditions, these developments resulted in an improvement in the market share of Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group. The Group also indemnified itself against major losses caused by customer bankruptcies, partly thanks to strict credit control procedures. The results were additionally boosted by improved control of the working capital, resulting in a substantial reduction in financing costs.

Due to the poor market conditions, most of the European operating companies turned in lower results. However, the result of the Groups biggest operating company, Van Leeuwen Buizen in Zwijndrecht (the Netherlands), stabilized at a similar level to that of the year before. The branches in Beesd (the Netherlands) and Deventer (the Netherlands) and those in Belgium and France also posted positive results. The UK ended the year with a better result than in 2001, and confidence in the future there was bolstered by lower costs and a stronger sales apparatus. The results in Germany were again weak due to a poor market and overly high costs. The Group has since combined its activities in Germany in a joint venture with Rosta, which is owned by Benteler Handel. In April, this joint venture acquired Rohrenlager Mannheim from Klockner & Co.

In 2002, Van Leeuwen further strengthened its position outside Europe. Its operating companies in Asia and the Middle East all posted sharply improved results. The strong growth in Australia was particularly gratifying, and the outlet in Canada also made a significant contribution to the positive result.

Strategy development
Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group has created sufficient financial scope for developing strategies and activities to strengthen its position in Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada. Group strategy will focus on providing a customer-specific service in those market segments and regions where it has already built up strong positions. To structurally improve its financial and operational performances, Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group will be phasing in a new organizational structure based on a market-focused approach by internationally operating divisions. The Groups strong financial position makes possible autonomous growth through investments.

Personnel and organization
The restructuring operation launched in 2001 has had a significant effect on the staff complement. The number of staff employed by the Group fell from 1,097 at the start of the year to 969 by the end of 2002.

Outlook
It is difficult to predict how the market will behave in 2003. The first few months of the year continue to be marked by a low level of activity. In this uncertain climate, the Group will be keeping a close watch on new developments and on cost control.

Provided there are no radical developments, the company expects to be able to improve its turnover in selective growth segments. In the current uncertain climate, however, it is still too early to make any firm predictions about the result for 2003 as a whole.

Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group
Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group is an international distributor of steel pipe, valves and pipe components. The company, which was founded in 1924, is active in practically all sectors of industry. The group currently has 28 outlets across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia and Canada.

For more information, please contact:
Petra van Zandvoort
Corporate Communications Department
Tel.: +31 78 6252321
Fax: +31 78 6252027
E-mail: pvanzandvoort@vanleeuwen.nl


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