Turkey's prowess in the ceramic, bathroom and kitchenware sector was on display at the Unicera Istanbul show held recently in Istanbul, writes Lawson Misquitta.
Over 1,000 leading international and local brands displayed a wide range of products, including bathroom furniture and fittings, ceramic tiles, floor-to-wall coatings, ceramic processing technologies, kitchenware, porcelain products, decoration pieces, packaging and storage solutions at the show, held from February 27 to March 3 at the CNR Expo in Yesilköy over a record area of 80,000 sq m.
The Unicera Istanbul Ceramic, Bathroom, Kitchen Fair 2018 welcomed over 84,320 visitors from 130 countries. The total attendance included a record number of 11,219 international visitors, the majority of them coming from the US, Germany, Britain, Russia, and Canada, said the organiser.
The fair is established with the collaboration of CNR Holding’s Istanbul Trade Fairs, Turkish Ceramics Federation (TSF) and the Trade Association for Sanitary and Plumbing Supplies (Timder).
The event was sponsored by the Association of Spanish Bathroom Equipment (Aseban), Association of Italian Ceramic Machinery and Equipment Manufacturers (Acimac), Confindustria Ceramica Italia (Edi.Cer) and Italian Trade Agency (ITA).
Often termed as the “land of ceramics” due to the rich tradition of ceramic manufacturing, Turkey is known for its ceramic manufacturing excellence. The country has emerged as one of the top 10 global ceramic products manufacturers.
The ceramics sector, which achieved a turnover of $10 billion in 2017, realised exports worth $1 billion and aims to grow it by 10 per cent this year.
CNR Holding’s CEO Ceyda Erem hosted the opening of the event, which was participated by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek; Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin; Turkish Ceramic Federation CEO Erdem Cenesiz; and Timder CEO Aydın Eser.
In his opening speech, Simsek said the export of high added value products from Turkey is rising. In the ceramic industry, there are enterprises that export more than 50 per cent of the production, he pointed out while emphasising that the industry needs to focus on research and development, design, branding and export.
Simsek assured the government’s support to the industry and said: “To get further in the global market and export more, R&D (research and development) and innovation are essential.”
With its price advantage, easy accessibility and quality production, the Turkish ceramics sector aims to increase its activity in its target markets such as the US, Africa, Asia and Far East countries and hopes for significant growth in the coming period.
Some of the top participating companies at the show included: Akgün Seramik, Anka Seramik, Bien Ceramic, Creavit, Ege Seramik, ECA Serel, Eczacıbası-Vitra, Etili Ceramic, Duratiles, Decovita, Graniser, Granito, Güral, Hansgrohe, Kale, Kütahya Seramik, Idevit, Isvea, Seranit, Schell, Seramiksan, Serenova, Usak Seramik, Yurtbay Seramik and Yüksel Seramik.
Digital Design SRL and TG Mac from Italy, Hamberger from Germany, Mota II Solçoes Ceramicas from Portugal, Quicmicier from Spain, Pestan from Serbia, Mehta Stone Export House and Asia Pacific Impex from India, Guangdong Hongyu Ceramics from China, Monalisa Trading from Taiwan, and Iran-China Clay Industries from Iran were among the global players which participated in the fair.
World-renowned designers from Italy, Spain, and Germany shared their experiences and talked about the new trends in the sector at the seminars held on February 28 and March 1. Among them were Diego Grandi, Sergio Perez Fortea, Massimo Farinatti and Michael Schmidt.
Erinç Tarhan, chief of R&D department, Turkish Ceramics, said the Turkish government has been very supportive of the growing local ceramics industry by providing considerable incentives to help them grow regardless of their size.
Turkish Ceramics is a part of the Turkish Ceramics, Glass and Cement Exporters Association, an organisation set up by the government and affiliated to the Turkish Ministry of Economy. The association includes around 2,000 companies.
Tarhan highlighted that the government also helped Turkish companies to set up their stands at the fair and showcase their products to the global market.
Speaking about plans on expanding their relations in the Middle East, she said: “The plan for developing our market in the Middle East region has received approval from the Turkish government and we are currently strategising our next move to create an impression in the region.
“We have planned to carry out a survey in order to gauge the perception of the services offered by our association as a whole. Ceramics and glass will be the main focus of the expansion into the region. We plan to carry out roundtable meetings, sponsorships, improving press relations, etc. We are trying to understand how we can increase our presence in the region.”
Tarhan noted that the Turkish ceramics industry is keeping pace with its European counterparts such as Italy and Spain, in terms of technology adoption and development.
She said: “We have grown as an industry, but we can further develop the perception of our goods in the global market by raising the profile of our products and services. We are the fifth biggest exporter of ceramics tiles and sanitary ware in the world.”
Kale Group, a leader in the Turkish ceramics industry, had one of the biggest stands at the event. The company showcased several of its latest products as well as some of its existing best offerings.
Berk Pazarbasi, export area sales representative – building materials, Kale Group, said: “One of our highlights at this exhibition is Kalesinterflex, which is an innovation in the ceramic industry and offers 3-mm-thick porcelain ceramic tiles in sizes of 1,000 by 3,000 mm.
“The tiles have been previously used in building facades, but they can now be used also for making furniture, and we believe that this will be the new direction going forward and it will be big. The tiles can be used to build kitchens, furniture, chairs, tables, and more,” he said.
Speaking on the company’s plans for the Middle East market, Pazarbasi said: “We have important plans for the Middle East region which will see take shape during this year as well as in 2019.”
“Pakistan, India and Dubai are some of our major markets currently, and we look to further expand across other markets in the GCC, which is very dynamic and is always evolving. So we have to be very careful about our steps towards expansion,” he added.