A MIX OF GOOD AND BAD NEWS FROM THE ITALIAN TILE INDUSTRY is reporting that preliminary figures published by Confindustria Ceramica and Prometeia show a strong recovery in the Italian tile industry. (Confindustria is the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Prometeia is an economic research organisation based in Milan).

They say that the Italian ceramic tile industry grew back during 2021 and ended up surpassing pre-pandemic levels. Total sales reached 458 million square metres, up 12% on the pre-Covid year 2019. Exports climbed by 15% against 2020 and by 13% with respect to 2019, while Italian domestic sales returned to growth after a 20 year decline (+9% compared to 2019).

Exports are to virtually all the main international markets, with the strongest performances in the United States, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The figures were announced by Confindustria Ceramica Chairman Giovanni Savorani during the customary end-of-year press conference.

However, the positive situation is overshadowed by huge increases in the costs of all production factors, especially energy, as well as shortages of certain types of raw materials and maritime transport difficulties.

“The positive market sentiment and strong demand will allow us to close this year’s accounts on a positive note, but there is little cause for optimism. The dramatic increase in the costs of all production factors is putting a severe strain on our companies’ present and future competitiveness. For perhaps the first time in our history we are experiencing the paradoxical situation of being flooded with orders from all over the world but facing extremely high pressure on our margins,” said Giovanni Savorani, explaining that the Italian ceramic industry’s energy bill has risen by around 400% from €250 million a year to the current figure of almost €1 billion, close to one fifth of the sector’s turnover. “Even if we raise our selling prices, we still have to deal with an unsustainable escalation of costs,” Savorani added.

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