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THE INTERNATIONAL MARKET OF NATURAL STONE

The annual statistics publication by Internazionale Marmi e Macchine (IMM) presented. China, the leading figure and Italy in second place with a rapidly changing scenario. Signs of recovery in the construction sector. Italian districts leading exports, characterised by the quality and high added value of products.

In 2014, natural stone (marble, granite, stone, travertine) recorded world trade of 86 million tons, +7.4% compared to 2013, for a value of 22.8 billion (+1.8%) with a stabilisation of market shares among the top ten countries but with interesting variations in the percentages. China continues to hold the largest share of the market with 35.8% (among the most important partners, Japan and the countries of the area), followed by Italy with 13.5%, a stable market in terms of finished products with high added value. Turkey holds 12.1% (down consistently compared to the 12.9% in 2013) followed by India (10.8%) and Brazil with 7.0%. The performance of Iran is interesting. In one year only, Iran increased its share from 1.1% to 1.8% and stands out in terms of production, exports and domestic consumption as well as its imports of Italian technology.

The target market for natural stone is the construction industry, which in 2014 stood at 6,800 billion euro, of which 51% is attributed to Asia picking up after seven years of general crisis. The Stone Sector edition 2015, the publication that the Internazionale Marmi e Macchine produces each year with its research department, presents the results and the prospects for the international trade of stone. It includes the numbers and percentages along with assessments of trends and prospects. “A useful tool for everyone, operators, specialists and institutions – were the opening remarks from Fabio Felici, Chairman of IMM Carrara – that is only part of our company mission, which is to study the industry, understand and report the dynamics and promote the use of stone. What we offer, in fact, are not mere statistical tables but also reflections on current or emerging trends in Italy that affect more than 10,000 companies and over 50,000 employees that form a group of true excellence but also have to face complex problems that can only be addressed if discussed and shared”. In the illustration of the trends of a sector closely linked, both nationally and internationally, to the construction sector, the weight of individual countries with the weight of their economies and domestic markets clearly emerges. “China, stressed Manuela Gussoni, head of the IMM research office, when giving details of the publication – showed a total export value of 4.6 billion in 2014 (+5.6% compared to 2013). Granite makes up 70% of the total (3.2 billion euro, +6.4%), exported in particular to South Korea and Japan but exports of finished marble products are also growing (1.3 billion euro, +4.5%) exported in particular to the US. China is also the leading country for imports with 14.7 million tons (+%) purchased mainly from Turkey that is now affected by the slowdown in Chinese demand. The second largest market for domestic demand is the United States that imported products for nearly 2 billion euro (5%) while – said Gussoni – there are signs of a recovery of the European market with the EU countries that imported products for a total value of 2.3 billion euro, with a small 0.3% increase, yet far from the 2.6 billion in 2012”. Italy, firmly in second place worldwide, exported 4,194,035 tons of marble, granite, travertine and other materials, both raw and processed, in 2014 to a value of 1,940,861,130 euro with a surplus of more than 1.5 billion euro. The driving item was finished marble products that, despite a 3.5% decrease in quantities exported, recorded an increase in value of 3.8% with exports of 891,933 tons of finished marble for almost 936 million euro. That means an average unit value of 1049 euro per ton (+7.5%) while exports of marble in blocks and slabs stood at 1.3 million tons for a value of 331 million euro. The quarrying and processing companies, particularly the export-oriented ones, have played an important role in the Italian trend and the organisation of the districts in which they operate and the quality of the employees is an important hallmark on the international markets. 10,698 companies (1,084 in the quarrying sector) that in 2011 had a total of 54,201 employees. The highest concentration of employees was in the Veneto district (Verona, Padua, Vicenza) with 5.634 employees followed by the Apuo-Versilian district (Massa Carrara, Lucca Spezia) with 4.511 and the Puglia stone district (Bari, Battipaglia-Andria-Trani, Foggia, Lecce) with 3.822 employees. The Lombard district (Bergamo and Brescia) was fourth with 3.340 employees.  In the general assessments, the export flows and values play a significant role. Again in 2014, the Apuo-Versilian stone district came out on top (Massa Carrara, Lucca, Spezia) exporting finished products for a value of 481 million euro, with a growth of +0.9% compared to 2013. The Veneto district (Verona, Padua, and Vicenza) followed with 475.4 million euro.Italian production, according to the Stone Sector by IMM, shows a recovery in exports to UE countries (value of 485 million and +4, 7%) thanks to Germany and the UK and the value of exports to the USA continues to grow (371 million, +2, 3%) despite a reduction in quantity in favour of quality. The value of exports to the Middle East is decreasing except for Kuwait, the Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Israel. China too lowered its imports in 2014.Today, the IMM study concludes, analysing the characteristics and opportunities of the markets, the key words for the definition of any successful business strategy are sustainability and innovation combined with the recovery and use of waste, the short chain with a low environmental impact and the product design, environment and employment as shared values for the social legitimacy of the entire chain.For small and medium-sized companies in the marble sector, exciting opportunities are opening up tied to the creation of a local chain of production of products with high added value to be distributed through a global network by introducing innovation and exploiting the combination of new digital technologies with traditional manufacturing implemented by constant and proper communication of the identity value of marble with marketing strategies to promote products with a high added value.Giampaolo Vitali, CNR Researcher and secretary to the Group of Company Economists, presented the data collected by the economic Observatory on the Italian stone districts and the activity of the major companies operating in the territories concerned. “In 2013, the capital companies altogether, recorded a national turnover of almost 4 billion Euro said Vitali – and the Apuo-Versilian and Verona districts show their leadership with approximately 900 million turnover each. The same statements apply to employment and number of companies: the weight of Verona and the Apuo-Versilian district is double the districts of Lombardy, and 5-6 times compared to the other districts of the North (Piedmont, Lombardy and Trentino) and Central-South Italy (Lazio, Puglia, Sicily, Sardinia). The impact of the general crisis in the sector was heavy on a national level, with a fall in turnover of 12% in 2009 and a recovery in 2010 and 2011, with a subsequent settling in 2012 and 2013. The final figure for 2013 is still lower than the initial one of 2008, especially in the quarrying sector compared to the processing sector. Within this national dynamics, territorial performance is very different, with the Tuscan district that shows a level of turnover in 2013 10% higher than in 2008, while the districts of the Lazio, Puglia, Trentino and Sicily are still lower 20%. Because of stagnation in the national demand, exports have become the main driver of the recovery in the stone industry as indeed in much of the Italian manufacturing industry. To this regard, the Observatory (which stems from a partnership between the CNR and IMM) has analysed the performance of exports of individual Italian companies and found that of the 1,131 companies in the production chain that export directly, a good 220 operate in the Tuscan district, and of these the 20 leading companies account for almost three quarters of total exports.Concluding the talks was Daniele Mocchi from the Institute of Study and Research (ISR) of the Chamber of Commerce of Massa-Carrara showing the results of the annual survey on the financial statements of a sample of 281 capital companies in the quarrying, processing and mechanical sectors with registered offices in the province of Massa Carrara. “The quarrying sector (which since 2007 has shown positive performance) is in excellent health with record values compared to 2013 and the data for the processing sector are positive too with sales up 5% compared to 2012 and by more than 9% on 2011. This has made it possible – said Mocchi – to close the accounts of companies in this segment with profits again in 2013, generating a production value of nearly 436 million euro with a profit of 9.4 million. The 51 quarrying companies monitored, however, generated a production value of 107 million euro, with double the margin compared to the previous year (currently 16.5 million euro). “For the mechanical sector, despite the excellent turnover, which grew by +14% and +18% on 2011, 2013 closed with a general loss of 187,000 euro.

Annual statistics publication by Internazionale Marmi e Macchine (IMM)

http://www.immcarrara.com/

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