COVID-19: Voices from the Cement Industry: Interview with Antonios Antoniou

As part of our programme of connecting our global members during the COVID-19 outbreak, WCA is hosting video interviews with our members to discuss the situations in their countries and to find out more about the impacts of the pandemic on the cement industry around the world. Here is an interview with Mr Antonios Antoniou, CEO of Vassiliko Cement Works, Cyprus.

Video Transcript

Somewhere around the end of February, early March we realised that things were not going well, first thing we did was, we are listed on the stock market, so we announced that we don’t see the financials and the operations going well this year, or at least the first half of this year, and then we, I suppose like everyone else, pulled together a crisis management team and we made a decision around four axis if you like. The first was all the steps and measures that need to be taken to protect health, our employees, our suppliers, our clients, the first step was that, we realised that a lockdown was coming, at the time we took the action it wasn’t announced yet that everything was shutting down, so we planned for a smooth landing if you like, how to shut down the production, big kiln line, altogether 6000tpd so you need some preparation to shut down. We planned that maybe we wouldn’t have much product to be selling in Cyprus in the next ten months or longer, so we started aggressively looking outside the island for new clients. On the plus side the construction industry in Cyprus started a few weeks earlier than we had planned for; shutdown we had planned for six weeks, four weeks after the pandemic hit us here, the construction industry started working again.

Even during lockdown we had a special permit to keep some of our operations going, minimal but because there were hospitals to be built and other things necessary for the government. On the export side, we did some good deals, we managed to retain our export clients by moving in first and saying listen we need you to pick this product up and help us out.

What COVID has done against our plans, is we had a lot of projects in construction and development projects underway which needed experts from abroad, from Austria, Germany, Greece, and none of them could travel, so a lot of work we would’ve done in the last 4 months is on hold and we have incomplete projects which has really been unfortunate for us.