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Marazzi, tile leader


Marazzi, tile leader Rome - (Adnkronos Multimedia) - As far back as 1935 it was known as "the cardboard factory", because in order to build his first small factory for ceramic tiles, in Sassuolo, Province of Modena, Filippo Marazzi decided to make use of two rows of poplars near his home, then slinging over a roof and closing the space between one tree and another with some old planks of wood. Less than 70 years later, the Marazzi Group (www.marazzi.it) is the largest firm in the sector at world level: 18 production factories, of which 11 in Italy, three in France, two in Spain, two in the United States, and before long a new factory in Russia and in a few years' time, the first factory in China. Sales amounting to 750 million euro, achieved for more than 70 percent on foreign markets and a widespread trading presence in 130 countries. More than four thousand employees and an overall production of 83 million square metres of ceramic tiles per year. At the head of this gigantic enterprise is Filippo Marazzi, grandson of the founder, who last month decided to call on the assistance of Michele Preda, a manager with long experience and former managing director of Albacom, to mastermind the plan to introduce the Group's stock on the market. In short, from the wooden planks of Grandfather Filippo to the Stock Exchange, always following a path of growth and success. And the future?

"The 2003 results - as Filippo Marazzi replied - and the forecast for the next triennium show that our Group, thanks to our opening out to new emerging markets, still has a lot of room for growth".

Many fear Chinese competition: Marazzi seem to have different ideas.

"For the time being our entry into China has taken place through the opening of a trading company located in the Foshang district. New initiatives will follow this first initiative, so that we can face up to the largest market in the world".

What about Russia?

"Before the end of the year we will be inaugurating the new factory in Malinos, with a productive capacity of eight million square metres of ceramic tiles per year, with an overall investment of 45 million dollars. This will become not only one of the largest factories in the world in this sector, but also one of the main Italian entrepreneurial activities in Russia".

Are you looking mainly towards emerging markets?

"Not only those. We have a presence in 130 countries and over recent months we have concluded important investments targeted to increase the productive capacity of the Monarch factory, one of the brands coming under our group in Florence, Alabama, which today has achieved the figure of seven million square metres of glazed stoneware per year".

The greater part of Italian firms complained about a rather difficult 2003. What about Marazzi?

"I really do not want to complain. Overall sales have remained more or less the same as for the preceding year, but we have succeeded in holding on to our pole position on the Italian and French markets, with a quota of 12 percent, and in increasing sales in the United States by 20 percent, achieving a market quota of 5.5 percent in that country. Over the coming years we intend to proceed along this same road: the goal for 2006 is to achieve sales of 900 million euro, with a gross operating margin of around 150 million".

What strategy did you use to achieve such results?

"I would say that at least three ingredients were involved. In the first place, the constant evolution and technological innovation, which has allowed us to guarantee a growth in product quality and at the same time an increase in production. In second place, a business strategy involving a widespread network made up of more than 18 thousand distributors, in addition to sales companies depending directly from the Group. Lastly, and taking third place, production: over the years we have succeeded in achieving a model of productivity which is strongly automatised and vertically integrated, combined with a system ensuring total control of the process, right from the supply of raw materials up to the packing phase and the finished product".

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