The Italian ceramic machinery and equipment manufacturing sector posted extraordinary growth in 2021 despite soaring raw material and energy costs and the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The industry’s sales revenue topped 2 billion EUR in 2021, up 39% compared to 2020 and not far short of 2017 figures. The result was attributable to rapid growth in both the domestic and export markets.
In 2021 there were 138 active companies in the sector (one less than in 2020) with a total workforce of 7,212, up 3.8% on 2020 and close to the peak level of 2018.
These figures were contained in the National Statistical Survey for the industry published annually by the MECS – Acimac Research Centre and announced during Acimac’s Annual Members’ Meeting.
International markets: Exports have always been the sector’s key strength and picked up rapidly in 2021 following a three-year decline, surging by 41.8% to 1,541 million EUR. The export market accounted for 74.9% of total sales.
The European Union remained the largest market for Italian ceramic machinery, accounting for 27.4% of total turnover (421.8 million EUR). Asia (India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, etc., excluding China) ranked second with a value of 272 million EUR and a 17.6% share of the total, followed by Central and South America in third place with 215.8 million EUR (54.7%).
China/Hong Kong/Taiwan dropped two positions to seventh place with a turnover of 97 million EUR, down 3% year on year.
The domestic market: Domestic Italian sales grew by 31.2% from 392.9 million in 2020 to 515.4 million EUR in 2021. The domestic market accounted for 25.1% of total sales.
Client sectors: The ceramic tile industry remained the dominant client sector in 2021, accounting for 86.8% of total machinery sales, up 46.1% over the previous year. The brick and roof tile sector ranked second with an 9.1% increase in turnover compared to 2020 to reach 98.3 million EUR and a market share of 4.8%. Next came sanitaryware with an excellent performance at 89.9 million EUR (compared to 71.4 million EUR the previous year), up 26% year on year.
Turnover by machinery type: The shares of turnover generated by the various machinery categories changed significantly in 2021 while maintaining the order of the previous year’s rankings. Forming machinery saw a 70.4% increase in turnover compared to 2020 to a total of 449.5 million EUR or 21.9% of the sector total. Raw materials preparation machinery ranked second at 315.1 million EUR, followed by finishing equipment and diamond tools at 279.1 million EUR.
The outlook for 2021: «The last two years have been very challenging and have seen dramatic changes in the market,» says Paolo Lamberti (pictured), newly elected chairman of Acimac. «However, the 2021 figure demonstrates our ability to deal with complex situations. Despite the continuing geopolitical crisis, our industry worked hard last year to react positively to the difficult situation, increasing its employment figures and returning to the turnover levels of 2017. We feel very confident, as is also demonstrated by the data from the sector’s latest Economic Monitor revealing that 45% of Italian companies are expecting to see an upturn in business over the coming months.»