Marble, again in 2013 Tuscan companies achieve better performance in sales and employment than the rest of Italy

wed 5 MARCH 2014
In 2013, companies in the stone industry working in the Apuo-Versilian stone district registered better performance in terms of turnover and employment than all other districts in Italy. This result should be ascribed mainly to the presence of excellent workers, which are selected and qualified through a tradition that inextricably links industry, art and materials of the highest quality. This has made Tuscany the region with the highest export value of finished products again in the first nine months of 2013. It is the outcome of the economic analysis conducted by the Internazionale Marmi e Macchine Carrara on the national and local marble industry, on a sample of 202 companies including 65 from Tuscany (60 in the Apuo-Versiliadn district) and 137 in the rest of Italy."Like every year, the analysis was conducted with a view to comparing the results of the Apuan district with the rest of Italy and offers important elements for evaluation. The high degree of internationalisation of Apuan firms - the Chairman of IMM Carrara, Fabio Felici, emphasises – has meant that exports now account for an average of 56.6% of the turnover. This figure is set to grow since the recession and the fall in domestic demand have triggered off a process of opening up to international markets that are consolidated year after year. Even on a national level, exports, which averaged 32% in 2012, today account for around 38% of the turnover. Important numbers that might be even better if they were supported by a national market, which today is significantly inadequate even if there seems to be a trend of recovery, albeit modest, on the domestic market too. "The results of the IMM survey do in fact show an increase, compared to 2012, in the percentage of companies that declare that sales on the Italian market have recorded a very slight increase (from 11.2% of the total business in 2012, to 13% in 2013). The percentage of companies that made a profit in 2013 is slightly higher than that of companies recording a loss, as opposed to 2012 when the balance was negative.In the Apuan district (provinces of Massa Carrara and Lucca), the number of companies that said they had a profit in 2013 is 33 percent higher than those declaring a loss. What continues to be negative, however, is the investment trend, which is partly because of the difficulty of access to credit. Nationally, 48% of stone companies requested credit from the banking system but almost half stated they had difficulties in accessing it. This led to a negative impact on investments and, in particular, based on our data, we estimate that the difficulties of access to credit today in the Italian stone industry have reduced the likelihood of investments by companies in the following year by 23 percent.With regard to employment and the labour market, the number of workers in the Italian stone industry in 2013 was estimated at 67,366. 88% of businesses are micro-enterprises with fewer than 10 employees and the average size in the industry is estimated at 6.26 persons. In 2013, compared to 2012, there is an estimated 3.42% drop in employment in the industry on a national level, while the district seems to have generated a slight increase in employment levels that, in absolute terms, will be assessed through a special census in the coming months.On a national level, however, 2014 is expected to bring a further loss of jobs because the difference between those who stated that they intended to employ and those who stated that they intended to dismiss workers shows a negative balance of 11 percent. The most worrying situation mainly affects companies outside of Tuscany, also considering that the hours of layoffs have remained quite stable on a national level yet decreased slightly in the Apuan district. There is likely to be, therefore, international expansion and a slight recovery on the domestic market. It is worth mentioning, that the industry in general, and especially in Tuscany, has withstood the crisis better than others, reaffirming the anticyclical trend due to its strength and specialisation. The industry’s strong points definitely lie in the presence of raw material of great value combined with professional and technical expertise in the processing cycle with few competitors in the world. Hence, it is an Italian industry worth protecting, promoting, enhancing and, above all, investing in since it has shown, even at times like the present, a major role in generating employment and wealth for the country.