1. The German stone market logistics remains a wholesaler dominated one, controlled by around 15 companies. These companies have superbly organised logistics and are able to distribute even the smallest of orders of slabs to as many as a dozen stonemasons with a single truck. This basically means any slab selling company from outside Germany needs to go through these major wholesalers to be able to enter the market.
2. A major problem of the industry is the problem of generational change. Many company owners do not have successors to carry on the business, and this is leading to many stone companies either closing down, or, in some cases, being purchased by other companies and these buyers are now becoming bigger in size.
3. The stone monuments sector for the funerary industry may be a slow declining one, but is still of a considerable size. With cremations on the increase, the number of monuments being installed every year is becoming smaller. The size of the monuments being made have also now become smaller over the years, reflecting the trend towards more cremation. But independent of the size the German buyers are now looking for monuments made in new different colours as compared to a few years ago, and also new designs, now made possible by the CNC machines. Whether they are quartzite from Brazil or marble from elsewhere, the monument industry has now become more open and experimental in their approach, as a way to offer high value products even when they are smaller in size.
4. Construction activity in Germany has picked up smartly, in part because there was too little building activity during the last decade. In public housing architects often specify clear grey coloured granite, and, inevitably, it is the granite from Wuhan in China, the new substitute for G603, which is now very often being used.
5. With the German economy booming, home owners are making big investments in their gardens. Demand for slate, sandstone and granite for this application has increased substantially. Stones from China, India, Brazil, Spain and Portugal are all entering this segment of the market.
6. Artificial stone is gradually making inroads in the market, for now its greatest inroad is in the area of decoration.
7. Lack of qualified labour is a major problem for the stone industry, as it is for many industries in Germany and other European countries.
8. Recent trends point to greater import of marble from Iran, quartzite from India and granite from Brazil.
9. Demand for beige colour has increased recently so all types of beige limestone from Turkey, Egypt, France, Italy and Spain have entered the German market- but the extreme fragmentation of suppliers means most exporters will probably not have observed significant increase in sales in the market.
10. In kitchen countertops approximately 1/3 of them is done in quartz, another 1/3 are done in porcelain and its share of the market is increasing, while the rest is in natural stone.
NOTE: Our thanks to Ralf Bekker and Barbel Hollander for their help in providing information.