1. In general the construction activity in the country has been increasing, especially in the residential sector, and more in the low and medium segment of the market. These buildings use natural stone mostly in the entrance and the lobbies, and in the staircases, and in the facades till the first floor.
2. In terms of colours currently in fashion it is grey, grey and grey apart from Polish sandstone. This has meant that cheap materials from China are being imported in a big way as also cheap grey coloured granite slabs from Spain.
3. Significant growth of market share of artificial stone has taken place.
4. The relatively cheap materials from China and Taiwan have put pressure on prices of all types of stones for everyone.
5. In the tombstones sector cheap products from China are dominating the market. But thick slabs from India and also finished tombstones from India are also entering the market in a bigger way. Since the overall market for tombstones remains stable, this increase is at the expense of imported blocks which were later transformed by the Polish stonemasons into finished tombstones. Availability of qualified labour is an issue, one more factor why the market for imported finished tombstones is increasing.
6. There has been some increase in Investment in machinery. Many waterjet machines have been purchased (as also other types) but most of them are not working at optimum capacity. While EU subsidiary funds for Poland have already been allotted till the year 2020 (a significant factor in purchase of new machinery) there seem to be serious delays in the funds being received, and this has created delays in investment decisions of all kind, not just in machinery.
7. Business confidence is not high, the sovereign rating of Poland has dropped, the currency, zloty, has devalued against the US dollar, making imports more expensive.
8. Poland´s own resources of natural stone are limited and their availability in the local market is even less since practically all the local grey granite, Strzgom, is being exported to Germany. No new quarries are being opened.
9. A new market is being created for more expensive materials like onyx and premium limestones. This market is still small in overall terms.
10. The overall feeling is much depends on government policies which seem to be holding back faster economic growth. Poland remains one of the few growth markets in natural stone, but the industry could be doing much better if the business environment were more positive.