- Currency-driven sales increase of €65 million to €4,900 million compared with 2014
- Earnings considerably down due to rise in fixed costs
In the Care Chemicals division, sales to third parties rose by €65 million to reach €4,900 million in 2015. This was largely the result of positive currency effects, especially in connection with the U.S. dollar. Prices declined, predominantly as a consequence of the decrease in raw material costs but also as a result of competitive pressure, especially in the hygiene business. Sales volumes matched the level of the previous year (volumes 0%, prices –5%, portfolio 0%, currencies 6%).
A raw material bottleneck in the production of a range of Care Chemicals products reduced sales volumes. In a market environment that continues to be challenging, we were able to compensate for this development through volumes increases in other business areas, especially in Asia. Oleochemical surfactants and fatty alcohols made the strongest contributions.
Income from operations before special items fell considerably due to higher fixed costs. Contributing factors included the startup of new plants as well as a lower level of capacity utilization than in the previous year, due in part to a reduction in inventories. Special charges were largely attributable to restructuring measures.
In the second quarter of 2015, we began operations at a superabsorbent production plant in Camaçari, Brazil. Moreover, we invested in the modification of a new superabsorbent technology platform in Antwerp, Belgium, and in new capacities for chelating agents in Theodore, Alabama.