Semen Indonesia lowers prices and relies on exports to boost sales

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Indonesia: According to the Jakarta Post, Semen Indonesia has lowered its prices by around 10% so far in 2015 to compete with rivals amid an economic slowdown that has seen a decline in the construction sector. With an increase in competition in the local market, Semen Indonesia had hoped that its exports would boost its revenues, according to company marketing director Amat Pria Darma.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo instructed state-owned cement producers to lower their prices in January 2015 to support the government's massive infrastructure projects. However, Darma added that state-run cement producers had to lower their prices further later in 2015 to cope with tighter competition and lacklustre demand. "A number of new plants have started operating and new supplies are coming in. We have to lower our prices to keep up with the market with overall plunging domestic demand," said Darma.

Semen Indonesia saw its domestic sales volumes fall by 5.3% in January – May 2015 to 9.91Mt, even steeper than the national decline in cement demand of around 3.8%. In May 2015 alone, the company's domestic sales fell by around 14%.

While cement demand has contracted since the start of 2015 on the back of the slowing economy, several cement producers have seen additional production from newly operating plants. New players have also entered the market, such as Semen Merah Putih. Semen Indonesia saw its market share in the country slip from 44% in 2015 to 43% in 2015. Darma said that he was pessimistic that Semen Indonesia could achieve its target of seeing sales volume up by around 6% in 2015, or even maintain it at the same position as 2014. The company will instead look to export markets as a strategy to cope with the domestic slowdown.

Semen Indonesia's exports rose by more than eight times from 22,155t in the first five months of 2014, to 184,181t in the same period of 2015. According to Agung Wiharto, the surges were not particularly good news as with high transportation costs, cement makers only exported their production when domestic sales were down and the contribution from exports was not significant. Exports, he said, were made to better ensure that its products were absorbed to maintain utilisation and efficiency. Wiharto said that Semen Indonesia was looking to initiate contract-based exports, in comparison to its current spot sales, in the near future if the economy does not show any signs of improvement. By relying on a six-month to one-year contract, the company could ship more cement, ensuring a more certain market.

"We hope to see our exports hit 1Mt in 2015. The prospect is good, given that some of our traditional markets have no cement producers," said Wiharto. Among Semen Indonesia's major export customers are Timor-Leste, Bangladesh and the Maldives.

Last modified on 01 July 2015

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