More than 130 delegates present in Milan for the 2021 Italian stone industry meeting

Again a meeting to examine and strategically program the Italian stone and techno-stone sector, the CONFINDUSTRIA MARMOMACCHINE General Assembly held on July 15 in Milan at the Hotel Enterprise was attended by more than 130 delegates among business people from all over Italy and representatives of government and business organizations.

The meeting was centered on president Marco De Angelis’ presentation of the principal work done by the association and what is planned for coming months, starting with the work to protect and defend producers and processors of authentically natural marbles, granites and other ornamental stones. The technical-economic examination of the sector was instead presented by the Honorary President in charge of official relations, Flavio Marabelli.

Again this year the association’s general assembly was an important occasion for networking, bringing together institutions, business people and stakeholders. Particularly appreciated by the delegates attending was the video appearance of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Luigi Di Maio, who stated that stone and stone-working technologies are among the most famous Italian products in the world, also emphasizing the role as sector interlocutor Confindustria Marmomacchine plays with institutions, boards and other associations. The minister then dwelt on the close operational synergy between the ministry and the association – in collaboration with ICE-Italian Trade Agency – in promoting the sector on foreign markets and in the field of technical education and job training in Italy and internationally, reiterating the ministry’s strong commitment to stone companies in the Export Pact and measures foreseen in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, intended to sustain the most innovative and highly specialized sectors of the Made in Italy, like the stone and techno-stone industry.

Also speaking during the assembly were the Vice Minister of the Economic Development Ministry, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, and the General Director of ICE-Italian Trade Agency, Roberto Luongo, who together with the General Director of Veronafiere, Giovanni Mantovani and Confindustria Marmomacchine President Marco De Angelis, enlivened an interesting panel discussion on “The Italian stone industry: visions and trajectories beyond the pandemic”.

According to the data processed by Confindustria Marmomacchine and presented by Honorary President Flavio Marabelli, last year Italy’s exports of stone and stone-working machinery heavily decreased (by 17.3% and 16.1% respectively) but figures for the first three months of 2021 seem to indicate an encouraging trend reversal, with foreign sales of marbles and granites limiting the downturn compared to the same period in 2020 – when the pandemic had not yet affected international markets – to -4.1%, while technology sales even grew by 10.2%. “On the basis of surveys our association’s Studies Center conducted,” President Marco De Angelis commented, “starting in March this year there was a definite upturn in work which in coming months should translate into a robust recoup in our exports, which I remind you account for about 75% of the entire sector’s revenue. Good signs are also coming from the domestic market, in recent months showing increases in sales of materials and technologies. In spite of the predictable difficulties experienced in 2020,” De Angelis continued, “the Italian techno-stone sector was one of the most dynamic, with revenue of more than 3.3 billion euros, exports worth nearly 2.5 billion, a strong propensity to export (accounting for 72.2% of production) and above all with an active annual trade balance of 2.14 billion euros”.

The sector’s will to recover was also confirmed by Giovanni Mantovani, General Director of Veronafiere – the organizer of Marmomac, the international reference event for the natural stone industry – who during the discussion panel stated that “Marmomac is ready to return in-person from September 29 to October 2. We overcame an organizational and planning challenge to hold an event in total safety, innovating the business model in support of companies. We aim to have an event that re-launches the natural stone and stone technology sector. And so, with Confindustria Marmomacchine and ICE we are working on a highly qualified and profiled incoming from 30 target countries. In addition, the format will be very versatile. The market has changed and with it the tradeshow. A marketing mix and multiple channels will be the added values of the event, which will amplify content and contacts also by means of the Marmomac Plus website, to further stimulate exports and the domestic market”.

Given these strong signs of a rebound, the association and the Italian stone techno-stone industry are looking forward to gathering in Verona in late September to verify the upturn and finally get back to meeting in person with all the leaders of the sector’s business community.