Floor Covering Weekly March 20, 2017 : Page 1

MARCH 20, 2017 NO. 6 • $4 VOL. 66 | F L O O R C O V E R I N G W E E K L Y The National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA), a group of industry-leading retailers, will gather here in Lake Tahoe at the Ritz-Carlton this April. See story on page 8. THE INDUSTRY’S BUSINESS NEWS & INFORMATION RESOURCE Tile takes share BY LAUREN MOORE Thanks to stronger builder, residential remodeling and commercial markets, as well as advances in technology, the tile market was the second stron-gest growing floor sector in both dollars and square feet in 2016. The fourth quarter report from Catali-na Research said U.S. ceramic tile sales are estimat-ed to have increased 6.4 percent in dollars and 4.1 percent in square foot sales. And industry executives anticipate that growth will continue. “I expect a similar result for the overall category in 2017, driven primarily by new home construction and commercial segments,” said Gianni Mattioli, executive vice president, product and marketing, Dal-Tile Corporation. Mattioli also cited improve-ments in technology as creating opportunity for growth. “Innovative technologies are transforming the category, and tile is becoming an increasingly popular option across many segments,” he added. Continued on page 16 Mattioli’s worldwide view BY BRITTANY WALSH [Dallas] Born in Italy’s “Tile District,” Gianni Mat-tioli can’t remember a time when he wasn’t around tile. He joined Marazzi after graduating college and has held roles in a variety of areas throughout the business, from finance to marketing to CEO. As the current executive vice president of Dal-Tile Corpo-ration, this experience lends him a unique vantage Continued on page 18 Daltile’s Woodbridge

Tile Takes Share

Lauren Moore

Thanks to stronger builder, residential remodeling and commercial markets, as well as advances in technology, the tile market was the second strongest growing floor sector in both dollars and square feet in 2016. The fourth quarter report from Catalina Research said U.S. ceramic tile sales are estimated to have increased 6.4 percent in dollars and 4.1 percent in square foot sales.

And industry executives anticipate that growth will continue.

“I expect a similar result for the overall category in 2017, driven primarily by new home construction and commercial segments,” said Gianni Mattioli, executive vice president, product and marketing, Dal-Tile Corporation. Mattioli also cited improvements in technology as creating opportunity for growth. “Innovative technologies are transforming the category, and tile is becoming an increasingly popular option across many segments,” he added.

Raj Shah, co-president at MS International (MSI), also cited innovation in the category as a driving factor behind its position in the market, especially in terms of design. “On the manufacturing side, digital printing is truly enabling looks, sizes and finishes that were never available before,” he said.

Barbara Haaksma, vice president of marketing with Emser Tile, said that while hard surfaces in general are gaining share in the market, she believes consumers are drawn to tile over some other hard surfaces because of its durability, longevity and ease of maintenance.

“The consumer’s awareness of tile as a premium surfacing choice is something we can parlay into real opportunity,” said Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing at Crossville. “Those who specify tile are more educated than ever, and we are doing our part to keep that education going — because informed specifiers will be compelled to choose tile for their projects. Tile has significant advantages over other surfacing choices, and as market demand and interest grows, we have the opportunity to convert countless decision makers to be loyal to tile as their top preference.”

TECHNOLOGY AND TILE

It’s no secret that technology is a major contributing factor to tile’s growth, especially the impact it’s had on design options.

“Technology has the ability to expand the aesthetic opportunities that tile can have,” said Paolo Mularoni, president of Del Conca USA.

Advances in printing, including inkjet or HD capabilities, have helped make some ceramic or porcelain tile products virtually indistinguishable from real wood or stone.

“It’s really difficult today to tell the difference between natural products and products that are digitally printed,” said Vance Hunsucker, national sales manager for tile at Shaw. “The real difference to the consumer is that they can get products that look like natural materials, are more stain and scratch resistant, require less maintenance, and are a lower-cost alternative to natural materials.”

Mattioli cited Dal-Tile’s use of Reveal Imaging, a digital printing process that produces realistic color, detail and veining as an example of the positive impact technology is having on the tile market. “Digital printing continues to be an innovation that lets manufacturers develop tile lines to meet consumer demands for wood, stone, marble and even brick looks,” he said.

Mularoni said that in addition to creating realistic visuals, advances in printing technology help create unique looks. “You can have a product that is inspired by a piece of natural stone, but then the color of that product can be updated. So you can have tile that looks like stone in colors that are nonexistent in nature,” he said. “These are added aesthetic opportunities.”

Technology’s role in tile’s growth isn’t limited to its impact on visuals and design.

“On the consumer side, technology including Pinterest, Houzz, etc. are enabling homeowners to visualize trends faster than ever before,” MSI’s Shah said. With the internet, mobile technology and the ever-growing list of apps and websites that specialize in design, consumers have access to hundreds of thousands of ideas. “This inspiration is creating demand in the marketplace,” Shah added.

Virtual reality tools and visualizers are also helping consumers picture different designs, while making the decision-making process easier and more exciting, Haaksma said. “It really enables the buyer or designer to be able to see, in a virtual 3D environment, what materials are going to look like in their specific environment,” she said. “It’s helping the industry communicate design solutions, but it’s also enabling the buyer or specifier to get an idea of what something is really going to look like, from a scale and pattern perspective.”

Technology also allows retailers to fine-tune their marketing strategies, Shah said. “Retailers no longer have to ‘carpet bomb’ an entire market with newspaper ads,” he said. “Rather, it is feasible to know exactly when and what type of material a customer is looking for and you can hit that person with your product at the precise time. This helps both the retailer and the consumer.”

HOUSING TRENDS PLAY A PART

Sales gains in tile have benefited from stronger builder and residential remodeling markets, according to the fourth quarter Catalina Research report, which stated the builder market received a boost from an 8.8 percent increase in single-family home starts.

“Housing is in a growth period at this time,” Shah said. “This is pulling growth into the tile and stone market.”

Shah pointed out that whenever there is a construction cycle, there is home equity available which can result in remodeling. “With the advent of images on the net and HGTV, we are also seeing the time between remodeling shrinking,” he said.

Indeed, the Catalina Research report says the rebound in the residential bathroom remodeling market also contributed to ceramic tile gains. In 2016, residential bathroom remodeling jobs in the U.S. increased by 12.7 percent, and spending on these projects increased by 8 percent.

STONE’S GROWTH

Sharp gains in commercial sales have caused stone flooring sales to increase at strong rates, according to Catalina Research’s 2016 fourth quarter report. In 2016, dollar sales increased by an estimated 5.5 percent, and square foot sales are estimated to have increased by 4 percent, the report stated.

However, stone’s relatively high price has kept gains below those of ceramic tile — the average selling price per square foot of stone flooring was $4.30 in 2016, compared to ceramic tile’s average selling price of $1.10 per square foot.

Read the full article at http://bt.e-ditionsbyfry.com/article/Tile+Takes+Share/2738923/393032/article.html.

Mattioli’s Worldwide View

Brittany Walsh

[Dallas] Born in Italy’s “Tile District,” Gianni Mattioli can’t remember a time when he wasn’t around tile. He joined Marazzi after graduating college and has held roles in a variety of areas throughout the business, from finance to marketing to CEO. As the current executive vice president of Dal-Tile Corporation, this experience lends him a unique vantage point of the tile industry as a whole.

“Given that Italy has always been at the center of the ceramic industry worldwide, both in terms of technology and product development, these two important factors have given me a unique perspective of our group in particular and the tile industry in general. Having a strong understanding of both has always allowed me to feel comfortable in the many shoes I’ve worn throughout my career,” he said. “I’ve learned how important it is to always consider whatever is happening in my particular corner of the business with a very open eye.”

For Mattioli, the tile industry is an intersection of manufacturing, complexity and design.

“Finding the right mix of complexity and design is key to the long term success of any business, especially capital intensive ones,” he said. “We are manufacturing a very tangible product that people enjoy every day. Tile serves as the foundation for spaces and design; it is very important to creating the look you want and setting the tone for a room.”

INNOVATION FUELS GROWTH

And while the tile industry continues to experience healthy growth, it has also experienced increased competition from other product categories. For continued growth, Mattioli explained that it is critical for companies to stay in “problem-solving mode.”

“Just when you think you get a foothold, another product comes along that challenges our current products,” he said. “The U.S. is very accepting of new products, so it makes it difficult to establish yourself. We combat this challenge by staying on the edge of technology, innovation and the next big thing.”

Indeed, some of the brightest spots for tile include advancements in technology and the subsequent improvements in quality and aesthetics, according to Mattioli.

“In our new Dickson, Tenn. plant, we have our proprietary digital application technologies for the next generation of products. We have developed a technique to produce high slip-resistance tile with easy cleanability,” he noted. “The digital glazing revolution and its impact on the manufacturing and product development processes has been exciting. This revolution is far from over.”

CHALLENGES AFOOT

Although innovation and technology are largely propelling tile’s growth, in other ways it has created new changes, challenges and opportunities. According to Mattioli, the internet and the escalation of social media have continued to be weak spots for many companies in the industry.

In addition, tile installation requires a high level of expertise, and it is a challenge to reruit new installers. “We need to be dedicated to growing professional installers, because when installed by a pro, tile installations can last decades or longer,” Mattioli explained.

UNDERSTANDING TODAY’S CONSUMER

With quality options abounding, today is an incredibly exciting time to be a tile consumer. And with research showing that today’s consumers spend a tremendous amount of time personally conducting research online before they ever step foot inside a retail store, meeting and exceeding expectations is important for success, according to Dal-Tile Corporation’s executive vice president Gianni Mattioli.

“[Consumers] are much more knowledgeable about products in general and they have much greater expectations regarding the style, design and functionality a product can offer them,” he said. “But this is still an infrequent purchase for a consumer, and there is unfamiliar jargon and terminology to learn, as well as a selection process that can become overwhelming with the number of products and options out there.”

Because of this need to simplify information, Mattioli said the key to all of the company’s marketing efforts is making sure each of its brands has a comprehensive marketing and merchandising program. “This not only makes the journey enjoyable, but also helps ensure they purchase the right product for their needs,” he said.

Read the full article at http://bt.e-ditionsbyfry.com/article/Mattioli%E2%80%99s+Worldwide+View/2738926/393032/article.html.

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