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Experts in gypsum

Article - September 15, 2011
With more than 150 production sites worldwide, KNAUF has set it sights eastwards to Ukraine, one of the most dynamic markets in the region
One of the leading manufacturers of construction materials in Europe, Germany-based KNAUF has consolidated its position in Ukraine and other CIS countries over the past two decades, becoming a household name among builders.

KNAUF entered the Ukrainian market in 1996, bringing not only its world-class gypsum-based materials – namely plasterboard panels – but also a full range of integrated services, including technical solutions, service and education. Indeed, KNAUF has published nearly a dozen textbooks, which have been ratified by the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science for use in vocational schools.

KNAUF’s business abroad includes a greater variety of products, such as gypsum and cement plasters, ready-to-use liquid products (such as primer coats) and equipment for their usage. However, according to Alexander Starchenko, Representative of KNAUF Group CIS, this limitation presents huge potential.

“Only around 10% of all this assortment of materials and services is implemented in Ukraine,” he says. “That’s why I’m sure that there will be enough work in terms of development of the company both for us and for our children.”

When KNAUF began operations in Ukraine it encountered an undeveloped market. Mr. Starchenko says that 15 years ago, the gypsum boards accounted for just 200,000 square meters. By 2008, the volume had increased to 90 million square meters (m2). With a population of 46 million people and a busy construction industry, Ukraine is a well of potential far from drying up.

As Mr. Starchenko explains, “In the U.S. the consumption of gypsum board liner is around 9m2 per person. In Europe, this figure reaches 4-5m2 per person. In Ukraine, it’s a little bit more than 1m2.”

He adds, “Our big advantage is that we didn’t come to the market that was already formed; instead, we created it ourselves. Ukraine’s large population represents potential for us and is the foundation on which we have built our market.”