16 April, 2021
Rajesh Jain, Madhav Marbles & Granites, India
Currently demand of south Indian granites both from Europe and USA is high. Executing the orders on time is a challenge for the factories due to the delayed turnaround of the block buying process i.e from the time of giving advance deposits, block inspection and transporting the blocks from the quarries. Currently this turnaround is at least 60 days for fast moving colours. This is mainly due to the unprofessional trade practices adopted by the quarry owners due to which the authorities annoyingly keep changing the parameters/rules. Once the goods are ready no one wants to delay the shipment, but the current shipping issues are adding insult to the injury. Customers around the world must have a holistic approach towards manufacturers/processors.
9 April, 2021
Oktay Gümüsdere, Elbe Naturstein, Germany
The situation in Germany is, of course, a little more difficult than normal, but the construction industry is one of the few sectors that is only affected by the pandemic to a limited extent. The only positive thing we have learned from this is that the innovative companies have continued to increase their market share.
That is why we have also made new investments in technological development, digitization and modernization in the natural stone industry and have shown that this is also possible in traditional industries, and we are making our contribution to making natural stone projects BIM (Building Information Modeling) - capable.
6 April, 2021
Paulo Giafarov, DGG Stones, Brazil
By the end of the last year all of us had thought that the worst was over regarding the pandemic. However, in April 2021 we now find there is a most transmissible variant and this is very much affecting the Brazilian production once more as more and more people are getting infected. The construction sector in Brazil actually had a strong growth last year due to the low interest rates offered by the banks and it is still moving well. But there are some political issues that might lead to a slowdown: the uncertainty created by the Presidential elections, which are due in 2022. And this could affect the demand for natural stones and other products as well.
Some stone companies are changing their polishing lines and/or multi diamond wire machines. Most of the big Brazilian companies have realized the crucial element that to be competitive they have to structure the production in the quarries in a proper way. Therefore, there are many new equipments being ordered for the quarries. The big companies have understood that the renewal of machinery is necessary to reduce their production costs.
Jeffrey Matthews, Trade Intl, USA
Residential remodeling is very strong, new home sales are down a little, and commercial building projects for the next year is at a crawl. Marble is on the increase in demand in general, Chinese imports are very far down, problems with shipping is a major concern as there is a shortage of containers coming to the USA, ports are jammed full and slow to unload, cost of shipping from Europe to USA has gone us this year twice and is now about a 1000 dollars more per container this year and may rise more. The increases in engineered stone are outperforming the increases in natural stone.
March 18, 2021
Rogerio Moutinho, MGLW, UK
Business is picking up now. But the severe lockdown has affected it in many ways. Transport of supplies is a real problem. Not just high shipping costs, but also supplies from the continent have their problems: more paperwork and hassles now that UK is out of the EU, and also higher transport costs apart from availability. The terrazo look is more in demand.
March 11, 2021
Claude Gargi, Pierre Actual, France
For the moment the stone industry in France and the market has not really been impacted by the crisis. The companies have not needed a lot of financial help from the State. The private stone decoration market is good. The high price of maritime transport for containers coming from Asia and the problem of availability of containers actually benefits the French stone industry. The problem for the future is whether there will be public money for urban jobs and construction of offices buildings because teleworking is now a rule. But for the moment all the lights are green.
Keshav Kumar, S.K. Stone Products & Services Pvt Ltd, India
The Indian Stone Industry is slowly recovering from the negative growth of last year. While export of raw blocks to China is up, finished goods exports have increased though not to pre covid levels. The rise in shipping costs and shortage of containers are adding to the misery! The domestic market for home improvement has gone up which means more sales in the domestic market. New construction has started to revive very slowly.
Kai Niepel, Pierre & Boiss Srl, France
Obviously, with all the restrictions caused by the pandemic, our professional life has been impacted quite heavily. In the first phase - less orders, less production, less sales. Mainly due to the fact of not having been able to travel with the usual ease, to hold technical and commercial meetings. But we have adapted very well to this situation replacing them by on-line meetings - certainly less friendly, but just as effective as our usual visits.
This sometimes leads us to question whether there is a real need to always take the plane and create the carbon footprint we are leaving behind.
The economic situation of the markets in which we are active, mainly Northern Europe, has, after a short period of regression, recovered very well. Generally speaking, there is a strong demand, it is more that we are rather hampered by all the alternative products which have been able to copy natural stone so well, without the disadvantages.