In the News – Italian Ceramic Tile Industry Confirms Growth
The Italian ceramic tile industry ended 2016 on a positive note, returning above what is considered the critical threshold of 400 million square meters in terms of both total sales (up 4.6% to 415 million sq.m) and production (416 million sq.m, +5.4%).
This result contributed to a fresh increase in exports (+4.4%, from 317 to 331 million sq.m) and an upturn in the domestic market (+5.5%, from 80 to 85 million sq.m), which has begun to recover after a decade of decline.
The growth in exports extends across all geographical areas. Western European markets, which account for around half of Italian exports by volume, saw a 4.9% increase over 2015, the best performances being in Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK. Sales to the NAFTA region grew by 5%, driven by the excellent performance of the US market; sales in the Balkans and the Gulf states rose by 4.7% and those in the Far East by 3.3%; there were smaller increases in exports in Latin America (+2.1%), North Africa (+1.7%) and Central and Eastern Europe (+2.7%). This latter region was affected by the continued difficulties in the Russian market where sales of Italian tiles fell by a further 10% in 2016, although this fall was smaller than in previous years.
The Prometeia Forecasting Report points to continued growth in 2017-2018, albeit slower than in 2016. Domestic sales are expected to increase by an additional 2.2% this year and a further 2% in 2018, largely driven by the renovation segment. The favorable mortgage trend is also fueling housing demand and consequently building activity. Exports are forecast to grow by 3.3% this year and by 3.8% in 2018, with improvements expected in what were the weakest areas in 2016 (Western Europe, Latin America, North Africa/Middle East and Far East). Domestic production is likewise expected to see further growth (+3.4% in 2017, +3.7% in 2018).
Vittorio Borelli, Chairman of Confindustria Ceramica (the Italian association of ceramic tile manufacturers) reiterated that the industry’s steady recovery is the result of significant investments in innovation that have enabled it to strengthen its competitive capacity in the various markets. These investments are expected to receive a further stimulus during this two-year period from the National Industrial Plan 4.0, which establishes amortization levels of 140% or 250% for technology investments.