Italian Ceramic Technology Industry Returns to Pre-Recession Levels in 2014
The 23rd National Statistical Survey conducted by ACIMAC (the Association of Italian Manufacturers of Machinery and Equipment for Ceramics) reveals an industry turnover that has returned to pre-crisis levels at 1.8 billion euro (~ $2 billion) in 2014, a 7% increase over the prior year. Domestic sales saw an excellent performance, growing 28.2%. Exports accounted for 76% of turnover and reached 1.4 million euro (~ $1.6 million), an all-time record. Sales saw growth in the Middle East, European Union, non-EU countries and China, but a slowdown in Asia, Central and South America, Africa, and North America.
In addition to the strong performance in international markets, 2014 was also the year of a turnaround in the Italian domestic market. Following years of contraction, the turnover generated by sales of machinery to Italian customers grew by 28.2% in 2014 to reach 441.9 million euro (~ $494.1 million). This much-awaited positive trend was maintained during the first few months of 2015, confirming that the recovery continues.
“This is a very important result that goes beyond mere economic considerations,” said Fabio Tarozzi, Acimac’s chairman. “We believe that the newfound confidence on the part of Italian customers will contribute to the development of new technological solutions. Italian companies have always been important technological partners for developing new products.”
The survey shows that exports are the driving force behind the sector’s growth. In 2014, the turnover generated by overseas sales reached the record figure of 1.4 billion euro (~ $1.6 billion), an increase of 1.6% over the previous year. The breakdown of sales by geographical area remained almost uniform in 2014, demonstrating the strong penetration of Italian technologies across all world markets.
The Middle Eastern region jumped from second to first place in the rankings of top export areas in 2014, reaching a turnover of 249.1 million euro (~ $278.5 million) on the back of 15.6% growth. In second place is the European Union, which has likewise experienced good levels of growth (12%) to reach 226.3 million euro (~ $253 million). Asian countries (excluding China) are in third place, losing the top spot they occupied in the rankings last year following a 2.9% downturn to 214.9 million euro (~ $240.3 million). In fourth place is Central and South America with 172.1 million euro (~ $192.4 million), a decline of 6.2% from 2013. Next come non-EU European countries with 166.1 million euro (~ $185.7 million), up 5.4%; Africa with 166.0 million euro (~ $185.6 million), down 17.3%; China with 115.9 million euro (~ $129.6 million), up 14.8%; North America with 83.5 million euro (~ $93.4 million), down 7.7%; and Oceania with 910.0 million euro (~ $1.0 billion), up 80.1%.
Turnover generated by foreign companies controlled by Italian groups also increased. In the 12 months of 2014, the 53 foreign companies with a majority of Italian capital generated a turnover of 500.5 million euro (~ $559.6 million), an increase of 8% over 2013.
The structure of the sector has remained largely unchanged. Last year, the 152 companies operating in the ceramic machinery and equipment manufacturing sector employed a total of 6,203 people (up 1.8% compared to 2013). The breakdown of companies by size class also remains similar; 56.6% of the total have a turnover below 2.5 million euro (~ $2.8 million), while just 11.2% have a turnover of more than 10 million euro (~ $11.2 million). The latter group also has a larger export share, reflecting the inversely proportional relationship between percentage of the sector’s turnover and foreign market penetration.
“The sector reported record results in the first quarter of 2015, with an average growth of 42.4% driven by strong performances in both the domestic and international markets,” said Tarozzi. “However, these results are unlikely to be maintained over the next few months. Our Research Department’s forecasts suggest that sales will stabilize at a slightly higher level than that of 2014.”
For more information, visit www.acimac.it.