With the knock-on effect of the financial crisis in Spain and Italy, Turkey has seen a rise in ceramic exports to Iraq and Azerbaijan. Jenny Eagle visits Unicera International Ceramic Bathroom & Kitchen Fair in Istanbul to see what trends are happening in the marketplace
Unicera International Ceramic, Bathroom and Kitchen Fair celebrates its 25th anniversary next year and has entered the digital domain launching a website (www.turkishceramicsfair.com) for professionals who want to view local products but don’t have time to travel.
The tradeshow is organised by TÜYAP Exhibition Group in collaboration with the Turkish Ceramics Federation and TIMDER (Sanitaryware and Construction Material Producers Association).
“The world is changing in an unexpected way and what we had on offer here four years ago is totally different today. As our target market changes we have set up a virtual fair to set ourselves apart from the competition,” said Bahadir Kayan, president, Turkish Ceramics and VP sales building materials Kale.
The Turkish Ceramics promotion group was formed in 1997 under the Ministry of Economy alongside the Central Anatolian Exporters Union and Turkish Ceramics Federation, to promote Turkish ceramics globally by raising the profile of regional companies, to differentiate themselves from the competition and to build strong brands so as not to compete on a price basis. Kayan said the industry has seen an 11% increase in exports since 2010 and sanitaryware has increased 14%.
“Logistically we have certain advantages trading with Iraq such as border controls, language, understanding the culture, similar taste and we have seen a change in the market there which continues to rebuild its infrastructure after the war,” he added. “We are the leaders in two markets compared to the EU which is Iraq and Azerbaijan.”
Kayan said the association does not foresee an immediate increase in the consumption of ceramics in Dubai because it still has excess stock in units sold for flats, villas and office spaces.
“The Middle East market is rather glossier than the European market in terms of product taste. This year we were able to see many products referring to this point. With the digital technology in hand many brands are also offering three-dimensional surfaces in glossy versions. The trend for imitating marbles and natural stones and wood is still valid as well,” said Kayan.
“Iraq hasn’t got any production of ceramics currently, and this makes the market very attractive if you put the huge demand for new housing next to it. Turkey, being a long time trade partner to Iraq and having developed early commercial relationships, is able to serve the market best.
The Iraqi market is almost a geographical self extension of the Turkish market in a way. The logistical infrastructure is working properly, Turkish contractors are able to build in Iraq in an increasing volume as well.