Ceramic Tiles today have become an integral part of home improvement. It can make a huge difference to the way your interiors and outdoors look and express. The Indian tile industry, despite an overall slowdown of the economy continues to grow at a healthy 15% per annum. Investments in the last 5 years have aggregated over Rs. 5000 crores. The overall size of the Indian ceramic tile industry is approximately Rs 18,000 crore (FY12). The production during 2011-12 stood at approx. 600 million square meters.
The Indian tile industry is divided into organized and unorganized sector. The organized sector comprises of approximately 14 players. The current size of the organized sector is about Rs 7,200 Crores. The unorganized sector accounts for nearly 60% of the total industry bearing testimony of the growth potential of this sector.
India ranks in the top 3 list of countries in terms of tile production in the world. With proper planning and better quality control our exports (presently insignificant) contribution can significantly increase.
Apart from their decorative looks, Ceramic Tiles are primarily hygiene products and that is how our broad spectrum of consumers view the product. This is fairly evident from its varied usage from bathrooms and kitchens in average Indian households to medical centers, labs, milk booths, schools, public conveniences, shopping malls and numerous other centers; which dot our day to day life. A ceramic tile is basically a "utility product" and that remains our promotional slogan. Popular housing projects are increasingly switching over to Ceramic Tiles moving away from the traditional use mosaic and even granite or marble, owing to several factors viz. ease in laying ability, versatility, low price and hygiene.
Nevertheless, this decorative aspect of a Ceramic Tiles has forever been in the forefront. Heavy churning out of bolder and colorful designs by the industry are testament to the fact that most households regard a ceramic tile as an "adornment" for an otherwise "drab look" of their age-old floorings or an unfurnished wall.
Ceramic tiles as a product segment has grown to a sizeable chunk today at approximately 680 Millions Square meters production per annum. However, the potential seems to be great, particularly as the housing sector, retail, IT & BPO sectors have been witnessing an unprecedented boom in recent times.
The key drivers for the ceramic tiles in India are the boom in housing sector coupled by government policies fuelling strong growth in housing sector. The retail boom in the Indian economy has also influenced the demand for higher end products. Overall the bullish growth estimates in the Indian economy has significantly influenced the growth of the Indian Ceramic tile industry.
The main product segments are the Wall tile, Floor tile, Vitrified tile and Industrial tile segments. The market shares (in value terms) are 20%, 23% 50%, and 7% respectively for Wall, Floor, Vitrified, and Industrial tiles. The tiles are available in a wide variety of designs, textures and surface effects. They cater to tastes as varied from rustics to contemporary marble designs in super glossy mirror finishes.
Both, traditional methods of manufacturing (tunnel ) and the latest single fast firing methods are deployed in manufacturing. Some of the latest trends in manufacturing methods can be seen in India.
The industry also enjoys the unique distinction of being highly indigenous with an abundance of raw materials, technical skills, infrastructural facilities despite being fairly capital intensive. A total of over 5,50,000 people are employed in the sector. Out of this, 50,000 people are directly employed and 5,00,000 are indirectly associated. The potential is huge considering the per capita consumption of ceramic tiles in India. Currently it is at 0.50 square meters per person in comparison to over 2 square meters per person for like countries like China, Brazil and Malaysia
As a foreign exchange earner or a global player, Indian Tile industry has captured the attention of the world in the ceramic tiles segment. To compete internationally, our plants must be geared up to large units currently operating in China and Turkey are driven by economies of scale. These will also help us in lowering our cost of production significantly. Also, infrastructural support is a key factor that determines the speed of growth. Better infrastructure will bring in better growth in terms of consistency and sustenance. Freight, supply of power and gas remains the key cost-related issues impacting the industry. Availability, consistent supply and reasonable rates are extremely important for the growth of the ceramic tile industry.
Also, the prevailing anomalies pertaining to Basic Customs Duty on import of ceramic tiles from China and raw materials imported from abroad need to be corrected to prevent dumping of tiles from China. Rural thrust should be enhanced by favorable excise duty and MRP structure
The ceramic tiles industry in India has followed similar trends internationally which have been characterized by excess capacities and falling margins. Countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are setting up their own plants. China has emerged as a major competitor. Producers from Spain and Italy have the advantage of lower transportation costs while exporting to USA and Germany. In India, the per capita consumption is as low as 0.50 square meters per person compared to China (2.6 square meters per person), Europe (5 to 6 square meters per person) or Brazil (3.4 square meters per person). Rising disposable incomes of the growing middle class and 40 million units of housing shortage hold out a great potential.
A major change that took over the ceramic tiles industry, was the introduction of vitrified and porcelain tiles. These new entrant product types are said to be the tiles of the future. Internationally these tiles are already the major sellers. These category of products account for almost 50% of total tile sales by value in this industry.
These new products and the conventional wall & floor tiles have together made the organized industry grow to a formidable Rs. 7,200 crores industry. This coupled with a spate of expansions by many players make the industry look very promising in the future.
The Indian Industry has developed an export market although at the lower end. In volume it constitutes less than half a percent of the global market. (Presently India does not figure in the list of major exporting countries). But this reality could change as Indian exports are rising at an accelerating growth annually. The top-end of the global export market is presently dominated by China (36.8%) and Italy (15.1%)
(Source: Compiled using information from Corporate Catalyst India, ASCER, Ceramic World Review and other associations.)