DESIGN ITALY EDITORIAL by Ranieri: The Ceramic Sector

If the building industry recovers, so does the ceramics sector. But we need help from the State

The comparison between the total turnover of the ceramics sector in Italy during 2020 compared to 2019 closed with a minus 4% on an annual basis. A decline, yes, but a slight one, therefore, thanks above all to the drive of exports where the Made in Italy label continues to bear fruit. This is because, specifically, it is the data on Italy that has suffered the most evident contraction (-12% year on year) while sales abroad have limited the damage by closing 2020 with a loss of only 2 percentage points. The measure of sales in square metres makes the idea even clearer: in 2020, 16 million square metres of tiles were sold less than the previous year (391 million square metres compared to 407 in 2019) with a loss of 10 million in Italy and 6 million worldwide. The analysis of sales on the international market is even more mixed: while on the one hand the developed countries - Western Europe and the United States - show a relatively stable trend, or at least a limited slowdown, on the other hand Latin America (-30% on an annual basis), North Africa and the Middle East (10-12%) weigh down the overall business volume.

The springboard, as we emerge from the pandemic, now focuses on the legislative environment. Or rather, regulation, especially in Italy, where there are around 20,000 workers and almost 150 companies spread throughout the country, with some internationally recognised hyper-specialised centres such as Orvieto, Deruta, Vietri, Caltagirone and Grottaglie.  But there is a common denominator among both the biggest players in the sector and the emerging ones: all eyes are on the forecast acceleration of the building industry in Italy, both in the wake of a general improvement in economic conditions and also thanks to the 110% superbonus for building renovation, a possible driver for restarting the whole sector.