The year 2017/18 has been one of the most challenging both for domestic and international markets. The last few months of the year witnessed a major devaluation of the Pakistani Rupee and consequently an increase in input costs and overall cost of production. Despite significant increase in costs, your company sustained its profitability due to higher sales volume and posted an after tax profit of Rs. 2,132 million.
During the year 2017/18, the cement industry witnessed a growth of 13.8%. A 15.4% increase in domestic sales and a 1.8% increase in exports contributed to the sales of the industry as a whole and of Cherat Cement particularly. In its first full year after the commissioning of Cement Line II, the local dispatches of the company increased by 65%, whereas its aggregate dispatches increased by 63% over last year, which cumulatively set off the increase in cost of sales.
As informed earlier, the company is in the process of setting up its third production line. Erection works on the plant are progressing at a good pace and we are confident that Line III will be fully operational ahead of its schedule. With this expansion, the production capacity of the company will increase to approximately 4.5 million tons. We are confident of completing the expansion within the estimated project costs. The expansion will allow the company to meet additional demand for cement in the country and explore new markets for its product. Furthermore, it will further improve the efficiency of the company and will allow it to further enhance its market share.
Cherat remains a brand of choice for its loyal customers and is considered one of the most efficient plants in Pakistan. It is our commitment to all our stakeholders to remain on path to success through hard work and ensure sustainable growth.