Diversification puts Ecocem on firm footing

Brian Conville, national bricklaying champion, at the launch of Ecocem’s next generation cement in a 25kg bag.

Brian Conville, national bricklaying champion, at the launch of Ecocem’s next generation cement in a 25kg bag.

 

According to Conor O’Riain, head of new markets and products at Ecocem, the bust of a few years ago exposed a flaw in the business model of the low-carbon cement-making business founded by his father Donal.

Up to then the business had relied on supplying cement to the concrete industry, but with the fall in demand the reliance on one market was shown to be a hindrance when it came to seeking new destinations for its product.

As part of its plan to diversify its range and target new markets, Ecocem has begun selling a finer powder product to a number of European markets, a business that produces a high margin but still leaves a large gap between capacity and demand.

Bulk exports are another avenue being explored but it is very expensive developing silos in the recipient markets.

The latest element to its diversification strategy is the sale of 25 kilo bags of cement through builders’ suppliers throughout Ireland.

Bag market
The bag market is generally viewed as being something in the region of 200,000 tonnes a year, with this demand currently being catered for by Irish Cement, Lagan Cement and Quinn.

At its launch of the new bagged product this week, O’Riain said that the processes involved in producing its cement reduces the carbon footprint vis-a-vis traditional cement by more than 50 per cent while producing cement that is stronger, better looking and more durable. It has been used on such large construction projects as the Aviva Stadium and the Waterford cable-stayed bridge and is now available for jobs of any size.

The product is being marketed at price parity with the traditional suppliers to the market.

The cement is being bagged in Ecocem’s new depot in Dublin Port where, according to O’Riain, activity has been growing steadily.

The bagged product is being shipped to England, and O’Riain makes the point that it is cheaper to send it to Liverpool than it is to get it to Galway.

Exporting the product further afield than the UK is not feasible because of the cost of transportation.

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