‘We secured the facilities, but more importantly, we secured our people’
CRH has four plants in Ukraine and has had a presence in the country for about 25 years. It employs about 800 people there.
CRH chief executive Albert Manifold said that its business there has been shuttered since the Russian invasion started last week. He said that both he and CRH chief financial officer Jim Mintern had spent a cumulative 10 years in Ukraine since the group first entered the country.
“I still have friends in Ukraine,” said Mr Manifold. “It’s very personal to us. At the same time, we’ve got to be obviously professional about how we manage the business.”
The group offered staff and their families assistance to leave the country, but a general mobilisation of combat-age males initially resulted in a slow take-up of that help.
“Since the Russian invasion last week, we locked up facilities – effectively all commercial activities have stopped,” he said.
“We secured the facilities, but more importantly, we secured our people,” he added.
“We moved a lot of people out and west, where it’s safer. We’re putting up about 50 families that came from Kyiv and Odessa up in our facility… which is in quite a small rural town. There’s about 200,000 people – big for an Irish city, but not big for that part of the world,” said Mr Manifold.
“It’s relatively safe [there],” he added. “There’s no military or strategic assets close by or no airport nearby. We have offered, since the start of this conflict, to move people across the border should they wish to go.”
“From very early on, it became clear that the Ukrainian government didn’t want men who were of military age… to go across the border, so there was a big reluctance from families to be broken up, for wives to leave their husbands behind,” said the chief executive.
“But over the last number of days as the conflict has become more widespread and more intense, there’s been better take-up of that,” he added.
“As of this morning, 59 families have gone and into Romania and into Poland principally,” he said. “We’ve got big businesses in Romania and Poland, so they’re not just going across the border and saying, ‘where to from here?’”
“We have people to meet them, we look after them,” said Mr Manifold. ”Those who need it, we’re putting them up in hotels, giving them money and food, mobile phones so they can talk to people back home.”
He said all the families who had crossed the borders were meeting family or friends on the other side.
Mr Manifold said that CRH has decided to exit a small business it has in Russia, having previously decided to end its presence there.
CRH this morning released a record set of results as it enjoyed strong performances across its markets.
Its revenue jumped 12pc to $31bn (€28bn) and was up 8pc on a like-for-like-basis. Its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were up 16pc at $5.35bn (€4.8bn) – higher than a $5.25bn forecast the group gave towards the end of last year.
Its profit after tax more than doubled from $1.2bn to $2.6bn.
Earlier this week, CRH said that it has agreed to sell its North American building envelope business for $3.8bn, which will include $3.45bn in cash, to KPS Capital Partners.