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Slowdown in Italian Ceramic Machinery Sales

After five years of growth culminating in the record results achieved in 2017, the total revenues generated by the Italian manufacturers of machinery and equipment for ceramic and heavy clay suffered a 3,5 % decline in 2018 to a total value of EUR 2158 billion.

According to figures published by the Research Department of ACIMAC (the Industry’s National Trade Association affiliated to Confindustria), this result was driven by a slight fall in domestic Italian sales (–1,3 %) to EUR 573,1 million and a bigger contraction in exports (–4,3 %) to EUR 1585,1 million.
There were slight falls in the number of companies, 143 compared to the 148 of 2017, and employees, which dropped by 5,1 % to 6905 following the strong growth of 2017.
“We’ve seen a slowdown in many countries’ economies since the middle of last year, including widespread stagnation in construction, a sector we are closely allied to,” said ACIMAC’s Chairman Paolo Sassi. “Over the last five years, our customers had made significant investments in renovating their production plants so a falloff in revenue was only to be expected,” continued P. Sassi.
The best performances were in the markets that had been least dynamic in the past. The Russian Federation, Ukraine and other Eastern European countries saw 77 % growth with respect to 2017 to a value of EUR 238,4 million, becoming the second largest market after the EU.
Excellent results were achieved for the second year running in China and Taiwan, where the ceramic machinery manufacturers’ sales grew by 25 % to EUR 129,7 million. Sales performed strongly in Africa and particularly in Algeria where local customers invested EUR 186 million in Italian technologies.
Conversely, the biggest contractions occurred in North America (–23,7 %), where the Tennessee manufacturing district reached the end of its positive growth cycle, and in the Middle East.
As for client sectors, the tiles sector con­tinued to dominate in 2018, accounting for 86,5 % of total revenue with a value of EUR 1867 billion despite a 3,1 % year-on-year contraction. By contrast, sales to Italian tile manufacturers grew by 1,8 % over the previous year.
The sanitaryware sector likewise saw a contraction, dropping from EUR 115,5 million to EUR 106,7 million (–7,6 %), but climbed to the second place in the rankings of sectors served by the machinery manufacturers.
The bricks and roofing tiles machinery sector was hit by the sharp contraction in exports (–29,2 %), and dropped to the third position, down from EUR 125,1 million to EUR 90,5 million (–27,6 %).
In the fourth place came sales to producers of refractory materials with revenue of EUR 55,1 million, 37,3 % up on last year’s EUR 40,1 million.
Several important markets continued to stagnate in the first few months of the year, so the outlook for 2019 is very cautious. “We expect the situation in some markets to remain critical, while in others we are beginning to see a slight recovery. We are therefore expecting our revenues to remain stable at above EUR 2 billion in line with the figures for the previous two years,” concluded P. Sassi.

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