Even though the Italian stone sector is experiencing a difficult economic situation, the most recent edition of CarraraMarmotec showed some signs of that trend reversing itself, according to show organizer IMM Carrara. The event took place in Carrara, Italy, from May 26 to 29, giving visitors an opportunity to visit the fair as well as many stone producers throughout the region.

There were 420 direct exhibitors at the fair, including 80 foreign exhibitors from 18 different countries, spread over a net surface of over 235,000 square feet. Among the companies participating, 42.8% were exhibiting technology, 37% stone, 16% specialized services and 3.5% machines for handling and lifting.

According to show organizers, a total of 18,022 industry professionals visited the CarraraMarmotec fair. Of this total, 4,180 were foreign, coming from 90 different countries. There was a rise in European operators and those from the Near and Middle East. According to a survey by the organizers, participants feel that the fair is more specialized, and it is being visited by a higher concentration of stone processors.

Organizers said that attendance increased slightly this year, rising by 2%, and foreign attendance increased 2.5%. There was a strong presence from France (10% of the total), Germany (7%), Spain and Switzerland (5%), the U.S., Great Britain and Brazil (4%), India, Belgium, Tunisia and Hungary (3%), with the remaining 35% coming from other countries. Following the patterns of previous fairs, the show's attendance was stronger as the days went on.

“A very satisfying result, if we take into consideration the sector's domestic situation, which highlights some very important elements,” Giancarlo Tonini, president of IMM Carrara, who said that added promotional activities were carried the Near and Middle East and Eastern Europe, with a “boom of operators” coming from a few countries in the Mediterranean area. “This worldwide influx trend of operators has been consolidated, with a significant increase for those operating in the 'historical' areas of extraction and use.”

Tonini said the most interesting visitor increases are those coming from Mediterranean Africa and the Near and Middle East: Algeria (+74%), Tunisia (+19%), Lebanon (+108%) and Kuwait (+32%); there was also a notable increase of visitors from Poland (+96%), the Czech Republic and Switzerland (+73%), Belgium (+42%), while Germany at +3% shows the same increase as China.

Italian operators, in addition to a strong Tuscan presence, considering the location of CarraraMarmotec, came from Lombardy (10%), Liguria (7%), Veneto (6%), Emilia (5%), followed by Apulia and Piedmont (4%), Campania (3%) and Sardinia with 2%.

Visitor survey

A visitor survey was also carried out during the 2004 edition of CarraraMarmotec, with face-to-face interviews of 1,000 attendees (60.6% Italian and 39.4% foreign). When analyzing the responses, organizers report that the exhibition is visited by company owners and managers, with a significant increase in technicians and varying geographical origin.

The foreign visitors interviewed came from 90 nations: 48% were European, while 52% came from other continents. A total of 36% of the total interviewees said they were company owners or directors, and the presence of technicians and other professionals has increased, with both categories making up 15% of the interviewees.

Regarding area of activity, 39% of foreign interviewees said that they operated in the processing sector and 16% in extraction. Meanwhile, Italian interviewees reported to operate mainly in the processing sector (29%), mechanics industry (15%), sales (15%) and extraction industry (12%).

A total of 41% of the interviewees said that they had visited the fair because they were interested in machinery for processing and finishing (for the Italians the percentage was 45%, compared with 42% in 2003) while the percentage interested in blocks decreased (22% compared with 26% last year). Interestingly, slab interest also declined, (23% compared with 32% in 2003).

At the time of the survey, 25% of interviewees had already contacted companies known to them, and 24% of foreigners had already made orders or purchases. Among the Italians, 33% said that their objective was to see tech-nological innovations, while 43% of foreigners said that they were at the fair to “make orders and purchases.”

A large majority of the interviewees (67%) gave a positive rating to CarraraMarmotec. Foreign visitors were more satisfied, as 73% gave an opinion of “good to excellent,” and 63% of Italians reported the show to be “good to excellent.”

As proof of professional interest towards the fair and for the entire area, 69% of foreign visitors said that they attended the fair for more than one day: 26% two days, 20% three days and 23% attended the fair for all four days; also 26% of Italians said that they attended for more than one day.

“These are positive results, which put together with the signs of the sector's revival,” said Paris Mazzanti, General Manager of IMM. “It allows us to say that Carrara is reconfirmed as a high-level international meeting point, with operators coming from all over the world.”

The next edition of CarraraMarmotec will be held from June 1 to 4, 2005.