Extenda-Andalucía Exports and Foreign Investment is organising until tomorrow in Almeria the ‘X International Meeting of Natural Stone’, which will bring the uniqueness of the natural stone of Almeria to agents of key markets for the sector, such as the United States, with the aim of strengthening the international positioning of an industry of which Almeria and, with it Andalusia, is the leader of exports in Spain.
Within the framework of this international meeting, which is held in collaboration with the Andalusian Marble Business Association (AEMA), twelve companies from Almeria are presenting their differentiated offer to 14 operators from strategic markets for the commercialisation of natural stone, such as the United States, where ten agents come from, Germany, with three, and Austria, with one.
Among them are representatives of leading architecture, design and construction firms from their respective countries.
In addition to the 153 bilateral meetings held, the mission includes visits to unique projects and companies in the area, through which foreign operators can learn directly about the work being done in the Almeria industry, at the forefront of the world.
The agenda of this year’s meeting also included an event to promote the Macael Brand, held on 9 November at the Carmen de los Mártires in Granada and chaired by the vice-president of AEMA, Diego Martínez, where a video presentation was shown and presentations on the local brand took place.
The event was supported and attended by the delegate of the Government of Andalusia in Almeria, Maria Isabel Sanchez Torregrosa and the CEO of Extenda, Arturo Bernal, along with other authorities delegated in the province by the regional administration.
According to the CEO of Extenda, Arturo Bernal, “in this international meeting that we recover in face-to-face format, bridges will be built so that the natural stone of Andalusia, represented prominently by Almeria and the Macael Brand, enhance its presence in these highly competitive markets, thus boosting the revival of the sector and strengthening its leadership in exports from Spain”.
In this regard, he stressed that “the leadership of the province of Almeria in exports of natural stone in Spain is indisputable, as it concentrates more than half of all national sales, with 521 million exported in the first eight months of 2021, which is a new all-time record for this period, thanks to an increase of 47 percent over the same period last year”.
Bernal stressed the great diversification of sales in the sector, which has the United States as the world’s leading market for natural stone from Almeria, to which between January and August it exported 233 million, 48 percent of all sales, and to which it grew by 42 percent year-on-year.
“An important advance that also occurs in Germany, its seventh destination, where exports rose by 33 percent to 15.5 million and Austria, market number 23, with an increase of 49 percent to 3.3 million,” he said.
For the CEO of Extenda, the Almeria natural stone industry “is the maximum exponent of the quality and innovation that are attributes of the Andalusia Brand”, which is why “Extenda directs a specific strategy to support the internationalisation of the sector in collaboration with AEMA, which includes the organisation of several coordinated actions in strategic markets such as these throughout the year”.
White Macael is especially appreciated in the US luxury residential sector, both in stone and marble, especially in its application in flooring in residences in cities such as Miami, Los Angeles or San Diego, as well as in outdoor and landscaped areas and spaces in homes and swimming pools; and in kitchens and bathrooms.
In addition, the commercial sector is registering an increase in the use of marble in spaces such as showrooms of large retail brands and luxury shopping centres, a trend that is also being followed in the hospitality sector, especially in hotel lobbies and condominiums.
Public urban spaces and street furniture also show a trend towards marble sculptures and installations, also used in private urbanisations, where Andalusian companies in this industry can stand out.
Both in Germany and Austria, countries from which importers are also participating in this meeting, there are perceived opportunities linked to the perception of marble quality, despite the decline in demand for these materials by other more affordable in price.
Thus, the use of marble stands out in more luxury constructions and renovation of common spaces, where quality prevails over practicality, also in bathrooms and kitchens.
According to Extenda data, the province of Almeria leads natural stone exports from Spain, with 521 million in sales in the first eight months of 2021, which is a record for this period since there are comparable records (1995), thanks to an increase of 47 percent over the same period last year.
Almeria’s natural stone sales account for 98 percent of all sales in Andalusia and 52 percent of those in Spain, and contributed a surplus of 512 million euros to the province’s foreign trade balance between January and August, as a result of the difference with the 9,173 million euros it imported in the same period.