“The construction sector in Eastern and Southeastern Europe experienced a major decline. In Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, private construction activity all but ground to a halt and a large number of public-sector infrastructure projects ceased because of the crisis”, Holcim said in its annual report.

The report also indicates the group raised cement prices by 1.5% in 2009.

Holcim Romania, that holds three production plants in Romania, recorded revenues of €327 million in 2008 and a net profit of €30.1 million.

However, Romanian market has been one of the sales growth drivers of the group, in terms of cement and clinker sales, compared to other countries in the region. The Swiss-based company’s sales fell 47.8% in Slovakia, and 46% in Bulgaria. Sales dropped 21% in the Czech Republic and 22.5% in Hungary.

The group’s global sales and net profit fell 18% in the trailing year, weighed down by the sluggish demand in United States and Europe, while profit operating margins rose on costs cuts.

Holcim’s net profit dropped to 1.47 million Swiss francs (€1 billion), from 1.78 billion Swiss francs (€1.2 billion) in 2008. Global sales fell 16% to 21.13 billion Swiss francs (€14.4 billion).

Holcim, that together with Lafarge and Cemex dominate the global cement market, said they would continue cost cutting this year.