Confindustria Ceramica

06   Giugno   2018

Ceramic Industry

In 2017 the Italian ceramic industry continued to see growth in investments to reach 514.9 million euros (+28.6%), 9.3% of annual turnover

According to statistical surveys for the Italian ceramic industry presented at the 2018 Confindustria Ceramica Members’ Meeting, the 222 ceramic tile, sanitaryware, tableware and refractory materials manufacturing companies operating in 2017 employed a workforce of 25,146 people (381 more than in 2016) and reported a total turnover of more than 6.3 billion euros.

Ceramic tiles produced in Italy.
There were a total of 145 ceramic tile manufacturers operating in Italy in 2017 with a workforce of 19,515 employees (+2.9%, the first upturn since 2006). Production totalled 422 million square metres (+1.6%) and sales 421.9 million square metres (+1.8%). Italian sales totalled 83.7 million square metres, up 1.1% year-on-year  but still less than half of pre-crisis levels. Exported volumes increased to 338.2 million square metres (+1.9%). This brings the total turnover of ceramic companies operating in Italy to 5.5 billion euros (+2.4%), consisting of 4.7 billion euros from exports (up 2.5%, corresponding to 85% of turnover) and 842 million euros from domestic sales.
Investments grew for the fourth year running to reach 514.9 million euros in 2017 (up 28.6% on 2016; 1.8 billion euros over the five year period). This corresponded to 9.3% of annual turnover, one of the highest figures anywhere in the Italian manufacturing industry. Contributing factors include the opportunities arising from Industry 4.0 measures which have been fully exploited by companies in the sector, improvements in competitiveness deriving from the use of more advanced technologies, modernisation of factories and production lines and the consequent improved confidence in the sector’s prospects.

International production on the part of Italian companies.

In 2017 there were a total of 15 Italian-controlled companies operating outside Italy. Owned by 8 Italian ceramic groups, these companies employed 3,138 people and produced 87 million square metres of tiles (+0.8%). Total turnover amounted to 862.1 million euros (+0.8%), of which 469.9 million euros was generated by operations in Europe (down 0.9% to a 54.5% share) and the rest by sales in North America (+2.9% to 392.2 million euros). 79.9% of total turnover was generated by sales in the same market where the factories are located.

Ceramic sanitaryware.  

There were a total of 33 ceramic sanitaryware manufacturers operating in Italy in 2017, including 30 located in the Civita Castellana area of the province of Viterbo. The industry employed a total workforce of 3,118 people nationwide (stable) and produced 4.27 million pieces (+4.5%). Turnover totalled 353.3 million euros (+6.1%), including exports of 159 million euros (45% of the total, higher than in previous years).

The refractory materials industry.
The 34 companies producing refractory materials in Italy employed 1,808 people (8% fewer than in 2016) and reported a 3.7% fall in volumes and 2.9% contraction in sales. Sales in the domestic Italian market accounted for 61% of the total.
Total turnover remained stable at the previous year’s values (more than 350 million euros) as a combined result of 1.1% growth in Italy, a 12.4% decline in the EU and 10.4% growth in exports to non-EU markets.

Ceramic tableware.
The 10 industrial-level Italian companies employed a total workforce of 705 people and produced and sold 11,900 tons of finished products (+7.5%). Domestic sales made up 77% of the total. Turnover stood at more than 50 million euros in 2017 (+6.2%), about 72% of which was generated in Italy.

Comment by Confindustria Ceramica Chairman Vittorio Borelli

“The ceramic sector is consolidating its structure at a time of major investments in new technologies aimed at maintaining its world leadership within a context of growth in global demand for our products despite an increasingly competitive international scenario,” said Confindustria  Ceramica Chairman Vittorio Borelli.
“After ten years we have returned to the turnover levels of the pre-crisis period of 2008, although we produce and sell around 80 million square metres less, largely due to the contraction of the domestic market. The Italian construction market has seen its business volumes halve since the onset of the crisis, is now recording medium-term annual growth of 1.5% thanks to the positive signs emerging from all segments. As for international construction markets, Europe is expected to see slower growth than in 2017 whereas a more vigorous recovery is expected in the United States. Amongst emerging markets, the most favourable prospects are unquestionably in the Gulf region followed by Eastern Europe.
“Sales trends have been affected by competitive pressure in our main export markets from our principal foreign rivals who benefit from much more favourable conditions and operating costs, and this has impacted recent months’ results.
“The issues of Fair Trade and countervailing duties imposed on Chinese dumping practices are crucial to the competitiveness of Italian industry. For ceramic tiles these duties have been extended until the autumn of 2022, while for imported Chinese tableware the European Commission announced on 15 May that it would begin its review of the case for maintaining duties.
“Anti-dumping duties are not a protectionist measure but a necessary means of preventing unfair commercial practices from threatening our companies’ investments and putting our employees’ jobs at risk. The increase in number of cases of non-tariff barriers is a very different matter and is causing us much concern. The latest case involves plywood display panels sent to the United States, where we are attempting to solve an issue that has arisen due to the early implementation of a provision originally planned for next December.
“In recent months in Brussels we have been involved in drawing up the rules for application of the Emission Trading system for the period January 2021 – December 2030. Since they first joined the ETS in 2013, our companies have seen a considerable increase in paperwork and expense for the purchase of emission allowances. Our sector is entirely exposed to international competition and does not see non-EU competitors facing similar charges. This situation needs to be taken adequately into account when our companies are assigned allowances in the next application period to avoid a very real risk of penalisation and delocalisation.
“The issue of excessive bureaucracy also applies to Italy, where the new regulations on Integrated Environmental Authorisations (AIA) both for new plants and for small variations at existing facilities involve lengthy procedures that are incompatible with the needs of businesses.
“The tax burden on our companies is another major competitive factor. We were pleased to read about the proposal of cutting the corporate tax rate to 15% (from the current 24%), but it is important to consider the negative impact of the differences in tax and social security contributions between Italy and its competitor countries, which reduce our employees’ real incomes and push up labour costs for companies. The TASI property tax on industrial buildings is another issue for businesses, bearing in mind that Italy is one of the few countries that continues to tax production factors.
“Energy costs are rising due to the increase in oil prices and consequently the cost of gas, a key raw material for our sector. For this reason we must continue to push for liberalisation of the Italian national energy markets and their integration with other European markets. 
Measures adopted in the previous legislature – such as Industry 4.0 and the Jobs Act – have contributed to growth and investments both in our industry and in other Italian manufacturing sectors. The important thing is that we do not go back on these measures.
“For the future competitiveness of the ceramic cluster it is crucial to build new infrastructure, including the Campogalliano – Sassuolo motorway link road (essential for addressing growing competition in our main markets of continental Europe), the widening of the central section of the Pedemontana road around Sassuolo, the connecting road to the Marzaglia freight hub, the Rubiera ring road and urgent renovation of motorway toll booths, especially Modena Nord.”