The traditional Ceramics of Italy International Press Conference held at Coverings yesterday afternoon saw the participation of Confindustria Ceramica Chairman, Vittorio Borelli, the Chairman of the Promotional Activities and Trade Fairs Committee Emilio Mussini, the Vice Director of ITA New York, Laura Del Vecchio, and the Association’s Director General, Armando Cafiero.
Vittorio Borelli began by confirming the key role of ceramic tiles in the US floor coverings market, with sales of 230 million square metres in 2014 (equivalent to a total value of almost US $3 billion). “With a more than 35% share of US imports, Italy has not only maintained its leadership position amongst foreign countries but has even extended it as a result of stronger growth than all its major competitors,” continued Borelli. “The difference in average selling price provides a clear indication of the exceptional levels of appreciation and value attained by Italian tiles.” The construction industry is currently very buoyant, with housing starts expected to resume growth in 2015 following a couple of years of stagnation.
Borelli noted however that there are still some obstacles to overcome. These include “the importance of harmonizing technical standards for tiles, which is essential for allowing consumers to clearly understand the products they are purchasing, and correct application of the protocol on phytosanitary controls for imports, where the key aim is to protect the U.S. ecosystem while setting out clear rules for all ceramic tile exporters to the United States”.
Emilio Mussini discussed the main steps in the Ceramics of Italy promotional strategy. Commenting on the Italian ceramic industry’s presence in Orlando, he said: “The available floor space in the Italian pavilion at Coverings 2015 has been sold out for several months now and the presence of more than 100 Italian ceramic companies – an all-time record – further confirms the importance of this tool for our companies in this market.”
Mussini noted that Italian ceramics will shortly be taking the spotlight at the Milan Expo with two initiatives. The first is an exhibition entitled Ceramics of Italy Laboratory, hosted by the Triennale di Milano for the first 10 days of May; the second, Ceramicland, will be held in the heart of the Sassuolo ceramic district and will offer participants the chance to visit Italian tile factories, the Ferrari Museum and the house where Luciano Pavarotti was born, and to discover the region’s other gastronomic, natural and historic highlights. Another major appointment will be Cersaie (28 September – 2 October), where exhibition space is almost completely sold out five months before the event is due to begin.
To conclude, Mussini noted that the promotional efforts to support Ceramics of Italy extend worldwide, including Maison & Objet in Paris, Revestir in São Paulo, Brazil, Maison & Objet Asia in Singapore, and ICFF in New York where 22 Italian ceramic companies will be taking part. In Orlando, Ceramics of Italy is sponsoring the Coverings Installation Design Showcase, a work in progress that serves to illustrate the best installation techniques and solutions.