Two years after the acquisition of the Indian site of Morbi, Sicer Group has completed another important operation. Already present abroad with production and commercial plants in Spain, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Turkey and Poland, the manufacturer and supplier of raw materials for ceramic companies further consolidated its presence in the Spanish district with the acquisition in May 2021 of the former Cerfrit production plant, a manufacturer of raw materials for ceramic companies located in the heart of the ceramic district of Castellón. Sicer, historic Italian manufacturer and supplier of raw materials for ceramic companies, has been active for over 25 years in the production of special chemical products for glazing and decorating ceramic tiles. This important news will allow the company to set increasingly ambitious goals, to achieve excellent results all over the world.
To understand how the acquisition of the former Cerfirt plant took place, and more generally the current situation of the Spanish ceramic market, we interviewed two key figures of the manufacturer and supplier of raw materials for ceramic companies: Raul Cruz, Director of Sicer Spain and Giuliano Ferrari, one of the CEOs of Sicer group.
To begin with, we asked Raul Cruz, Director of Sicer Spain, to tell us how the former Cerfrit plant was acquired by Sicer group and for what purpose.
“Sicer has been present on the Spanish market since 2000. Always attentive to all the growth opportunities offered by the market, the company for several years felt the need to equip itself with an adequate system to meet the demands of a highly competitive and demanding sector. The former Cerfrit plant was particularly suited to Sicer Spain’s current needs and the acquisition took place following a careful technical and financial study “. Sicer has a wide range of products available to its customers: from decoration materials at 800ºC to glazes, engobes, grits and inks for porcelain stoneware. “With the new plant we will be able to increase the production of frits, compounds and glazes for double-fired, monoporosa and stoneware”.
Following the operation, Sicer Group will therefore be able to count on a highly specialized production site of about 9,000 square meters, with laboratories and offices on a total area of over 30,000 square meters. The plant has an important frit production department with a capacity of over 40,000 tons / year and offers the possibility of producing the latest generation glazes and grits, increasing the presence of Sicer in terms of quantity and variety produced in one of the most important ceramic districts in the world. The manufacturer and supplier of raw materials for ceramic companies, in fact, is highly specialized in the production of products of the highest technical quality, such as the latest GRA Dry-Lux grits for mirror lapped, and the possibility of also making this type of product directly in Spain will guarantee new growth opportunities. and an even more efficient and punctual customer service.
There is no doubt that the new plant will bring multiple benefits. Specifically, what will be the benefits for your group and what will be the benefits for your customers?
From the point of view of the group “Sicer Spain will certainly bring to the group a greater production and competitive capacity. It will be able to strengthen the red and white single-fired tile business, which represents a large percentage of the current world market, and will reach customers in hitherto unknown markets, especially in North Africa. The goal is to be clearly present in all countries of ceramic culture with a portfolio suitable for each specific market”.
“This acquisition was especially appreciated by all our local and foreign customers. The offer of products, the increase in trust due to the proximity between production centers, the speed of supply, the technical collaboration, the implementation of more ambitious projects, etc … everything will increase following the start-up of the plant”.
The deal therefore marks the continuation of the company’s industrial plan, aimed at growth and internationalization on all the main ceramic markets. The goal is to establish a solid production presence and targeted technical assistance dedicated to customers in the world’s major ceramic districts. Continuous technical research and product innovation are Sicer’s strengths which must be associated with an exclusive assistance service. Proximity to the customer therefore becomes essential to guarantee a punctual and high quality service in all territories.
To better understand the context of this operation, we asked Raul to give us an overview of the current situation of the Spanish ceramic market.
“The Spanish ceramic market is experiencing an unprecedented situation regarding the production levels of ceramic tiles, especially after the pandemic. The first quarter of 2021 ended with the best production and sales result in years, with an increase of more than 15% and for sure this second quarter will be even better, because the export of Spanish tiles is continuously increasing in all foreign markets. The capacity of Spanish producers has increased to such an extent that many are expanding the number of kilns. Same thing happens with manufacturers and suppliers of raw materials for ceramic companies or with those who provide assistance to ceramic systems. The level of work to date has reached maximum levels”.
Unfortunately, 2020 and 2021 are troubled years due to Covid19 which still generates difficulties, not only on the health level, but also on an economic level. We asked Raul what the effects of the global pandemic have been on the Spanish ceramic market.
“Contrary to what we expected, the pandemic gave the Spanish ceramic sector a great boost, so much so that the lack of exhibitions where the products were usually presented was not noticed. Never, in recent years, has the Spanish ceramic tile had a start to a year like 2021. People’s expenses have profoundly changed, especially as regards housing. Now people invest part of their savings to renew the appearance of their home where they have spent most of their time in the last year. Demand in the local market has increased dramatically, as have exports to countries such as South Arabia, to the detriment of Indian and Chinese competitors. The European market also appreciated the stability, quality and service guaranteed by the strong Spanish ceramic cluster, to the detriment of the higher average price compared to Asian competitors. In addition, many commercial companies that produced abroad before the Pandemic, have returned to produce locally”.
Despite the pandemic, 2020 was a year of good results and great satisfaction for Sicer, which managed the emergency with proactivity and resilience, closing the financial statements with consolidated Group revenues of 70 million euros, in line with 2019. What allowed you to reach such a milestone? What distinguishes Sicer Spain and more generally Sicer group from other manufacturers and suppliers of raw materials for ceramic companies?
“Sicer group is characterized by being a high-level supplier with a broad portfolio that offers unique technical and aesthetic solutions, always with the mentality of constant growth and support for our customers. Sicer Spain is a young, fresh, ambitious, proactive company, fast in material supply times and very close to customers with quick technical solutions to everyday problems and other more complex ones. Our customers stay with us because they know that they will find the material, the graphics, the idea and the service that they will not find elsewhere”.
The company objectives are very ambitious and the company management continues to look for new challenges and reasons for development. What are Sicer Spain’s corporate objectives for 2021-2022?
“The objectives for the near future of Sicer Spain are to create the structure, methodologies, procedures and image equal to Sicer Italiy that allows us to work as a single production, technical and commercial unit. We will adapt the new production center with the latest technologies and rebuild the research laboratory, as well as offices and showrooms that will allow us to transmit Sicer style. We hope this year to continue to grow in double digits and to develop new markets”.
To conclude, we asked Giuliano Ferrari, CEO of the Sicer Group, what are the actual times for restructuring and reorganization of the new production site today to achieve full production efficiency and what products Sicer will want to focus on in particular.
“The renovation works began immediately on the basis of a restructuring project defined in the smallest details both as regards the production part of the plant, and as regards the offices and the showroom dedicated to customers which will have all the characteristics of all our Gallery that represents our “trademark” recognizable in all locations. The end of works is scheduled for January 2022 and production will focus on frits and above all technical grits, our flagship product and of great pride”.