Tiles

The Italian ceramic tile industry shut down by Covid-19. What about Spain?

03/04/2020

Giovanni Savorani, Chairman of Confindustria Ceramica, sounds the alarm: “We are extremely concerned because the decisions taken by the Italian government to prevent the spread of the virus are harming the competitiveness of the sector.”

With the Prime Ministerial Decree of 22 March aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, all non-essential production activities in Italy were shut down, including ceramic tile production and the upstream sector of ceramic machinery manufacturing. Tile manufacturers were given 3 days to shut down their kilns and complete the already prepared shipments before the closure came into effect until 3 April. The shutdown was further extended to 13 April by the new Prime Ministerial Decree of 1/4/2020. The repeated requests made by Confindustria Ceramica to the prefectures and authorities to allow the shipment of goods already in stock to continue were unheeded (at least as of Friday 3 April).

This is causing severe damage to the sector, which finds itself penalised on several fronts, as Confindustria Ceramica’s Chairman Giovanni Savorani pointed out in an article published in Il Sole 24 Ore on 2 April:

“We are extremely worried because the decisions taken by the government to stem the spread of the contagion are posing a threat to the competitiveness of the sector. This is not only damaging our companies, which are losing turnover and market share, but is causing harm to the entire country.”

The Italian ceramic industry had already complied with all the measures required to guarantee the health and safety of factory workers, warehouse workers and transporters, while office staff are naturally all working from home.

Moreover, orders received up until the middle of March suggested that the sector was beginning to recover following a lacklustre 2019.

The main concern now is the risk of losing market share to Italy’s main European competitors, the Spanish tile producers, who despite experiencing a national health emergency comparable to that of Italy have been given the go-ahead for all freight shipment activities. In Spain, the Royal Decree-Law 10/2020 of 29 March likewise introduced the shutdown of all non-essential production activities (including ceramics), but in two subsequent interpretative notes (on 31 March and 1 April) the Ministry of Industry accepted the requests made by the trade association Ascer and authorised the continuation of shipments of goods in stock for both export and the domestic market (Source: El Mundo, 2 April).

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