Large steel makers are trying to grab market share from small and medium players who are cutting down production due to the downturn in the industry.

Pomina Steel Company, a major construction-steel manufacturer with nearly 14 percent of the market, hopes to increase sales in both volume and value terms.

It did not specify how much it plans to sell this year, merely announcing that it will increase sales by 20 percent to 14.4 trillion VND (685.7 million USD).

It hopes to achieve this by setting up more sales outlets in the north.

Dau Tu (Vietnam Investment Review) newspaper quoted a company spokesperson as saying that though it only began selling in that region last year, it already has a 5 percent market share.

Other major steel firms with strong brands and advanced technologies are also planning to expand.

The Hoa Sen Group was busy trying to expand market share last year though the industry was struggling, managing to increase its share of the sheet-metal market by 3.5 percent to 37 percent.

It is the largest company in the segment.

Overall, it has increased its market share to 13.9 percent last quarter from 13.3 percent at the end of last year.

The Vietnam Steel Association reported that steel sales in the first quarter were a million tonnes, or 12 percent lower than a year earlier.

Pham Chi Cuong, head of the association, said the industry's growth target of 4 percent this year could be hard to achieve if sales do not pick up soon.-VNA