The Italian ceramic industry has already lost 350 million euros in sales

Confindustria Ceramica announces the final figures for 2019 and makes an initial assessment of the impact of the health emergency on the tile industry

“In two months of lockdown, our sector has lost more than 350 million euros in turnover and has been forced to make extensive use of the employee furlough scheme, which risks continuing at least until Christmas. But jobs cannot be defended by decree. To restart the economy and return to employment we need investment, simplified bureaucracy and direct support for businesses.” With these words, Giovanni Savorani, unanimously re-elected Chairman of Confindustria Ceramica for the two-year period 2020-2021 by the Annual Members’ Meeting held on 9 June, offers an initial assessment of the effects of the pandemic.

“Making forecasts for the current year is practically impossible as the domestic market is currently at a standstill and the pandemic has developed rapidly and with different timeframes in almost all foreign markets, making it impossible to estimate its effects on our exports,” Savorani continues. “What is certain is that the 110% tax incentive for energy efficiency and seismic interventions included in the so-called Relaunch decree, for which we are awaiting further information on the areas of application, may provide an extraordinary stimulus to the recovery of the building industry and consequently of our sector.”

The 279 Italian ceramic companies – including manufacturers of tiles, sanitaryware, tableware, refractory materials, and bricks and roof tiles – are currently working at 50% of their production capacity and are coming to terms with worse-than-expected results in 2019 and the prospect of having to resort to social shock absorbers for months to come in order to protect their 27,500 direct employees.

  • The 2019 final results

The results of the 40th annual statistical survey of the Italian ceramic industry were presented at the annual members’ meeting. In 2019, total turnover remained substantially stable with respect to the previous year in terms of value (-0.7%) at 6.5 billion euros, of which 4.8 billion euros consisted of exports.

Some 80% of total turnover was generated by the tile industry, which consists of 135 companies with 224 plants and 19,318 employees (274 fewer than in 2018). In 2019, tile production fell by 3.56% to 400.7 million sqm, in line with total sales (406.9 million sqm, -0.78%). Domestic sales remained almost stable (83.5 million sqm, +1.3%), generating a value of 832 million euros; exports fell slightly to 323.4 million sqm (-1.3%), equivalent to a value of 4.5 billion euros (-0.83%), 84% of the sector’s total turnover, which remained stable compared with 2018 at 5.34 billion euros (-0.73%).

“In 2019, investments totalled 373.1 million euros (7% of annual turnover), down by a quarter compared to the previous year when tax incentives were still in place but with values well above the pre-Industry 4.0 volumes” said Savorani, noting that these figures reflect confidence on the part of entrepreneurs in the prospects of Italian industry.

If the domestic market is waiting for the “shot in the arm” provided by the Relaunch decree and the 110% super-bonus for energy efficiency and seismic efficiency, export markets are showing reassuring signs in terms of the initial 2020 data for world trade, including a recovery in sales of Italian tile, especially in the US market.

  • Manufacturing internationalisation of the ceramic tile industry

Along with the results achieved by the 135 ceramic companies operating in Italy, we must add those of the 16 foreign-registered companies controlled by 9 Italian groups and located mainly in Europe and the United States.

In 2019, these companies employed 3,133 people and produced 82 million sqm of tiles. Their total turnover amounted to 843 million euros (-1.8%), of which 464.7 million euros was generated by operations in Europe (-3.8%; a 55% share) and the remaining 378.4 million euros by sales in North America (+0.7%). Some 80% of total turnover was generated by sales in the same market where the factories are located.

  • Awaiting Cersaie

We must wait until 22 June for final confirmation that Cersaie, the world’s leading trade fair for the sector, will go ahead on 9 November after being postponed from its original opening date of 28 September due to the pandemic. But in the meantime, we have received confirmation that the contract with BolognaFiere is being renewed until 2025 as well as the news that among the amendments to the Relaunch decree, there will be a 600 million euro fund to support the national trade fair system, which is essential to help revive highly internationalised manufacturing sectors such as the ceramic industry.

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