2017 was a year of solid growth for Bekaert. We achieved more than 10% sales growth, exceeding the € 4 billion consolidated sales mark for the first time in history.
Our robust organic sales growth exceeded the market averages in our industry as well as overall GDP growth. Moreover, our growth was value creating with ROIC well above WACC in 2017.
We recognize that our commitment to drive value creation for our stakeholders has to take into account the broader economic, environmental and social impacts of our operations. We therefore consider the interests of customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, communities and other stakeholders in all aspects of our operations. We conduct and grow our business in a sustainable way so that our stakeholders all benefit.
Our company generates economic value through employment, capital investments, dividends, and payments to capital providers and governments. Driven by our growth strategy, we will continue to invest and we will progressively improve our profitability so we move towards 10% underlying EBIT margin over the medium term.
We co-operate with customers and suppliers to develop products and processes that contribute to a cleaner environment. We interact with local governments in a transparent and constructive way and we strive to be a loyal and responsible partner in the communities where we are active.
The worldwide participation of 30 000 employees in Bekaert‘s global transformation towards higher performance has added to the collective strength of our company. Our teams feel engaged and empowered to play their part on the transformation journey, to always do better, and to push our shared ambitions to greater heights.
Our Company Values distinguish us and guide our actions. We conduct business in a socially responsible and ethical way. We have translated our sustainability ambitions into clear targets so we make a positive contribution to our employees, to the environment, and to society as a whole.
We want to thank our employees for their commitment, energy and irrepressible drive to always improve our capability, as One Bekaert team. And we want to thank our customers, partners and shareholders for their continued trust.