When your market for purchasing and selling natural stone is literally the entire world, it is essential not only to monitor trends, but also to forecast them. This practice has enabled R.E.D. Graniti of Carrara, Italy, to remain one of the leading block traders in the international stone industry.

"Not only during the last few years, but over the course of its activity, R.E.D. Graniti has always approached the world market trying to reach its requirements and trends, and above all, it has tried to anticipate them," said Fabrizio Ponzanelli, president of R.E.D. Graniti. "This method of working makes R.E.D. Graniti a company in constant progress. We are able to promote well-known classics in the stone market alongside new proposals that often anticipate the market trends."

R.E.D. Graniti's volume of blocks in its various sites - including those in Italy, Spain, Belgium and other countries - is currently around 50,000 cubic meters, and it is continually being augmented by company-owned quarries in countries such as Finland, Norway, South Africa, the U.S., Namibia and Brazil. In all, the company's inventory includes over 100 materials from five continents. The total volume of blocks being sold is around 200,000 cubic meters per year.

Approximately 50 people are currently working in the trading sector for R.E.D. Graniti, and around 700 employees are working in the production sector at quarry sites around the world.

Because the company is continually evaluating new materials, it has a thorough appraisal process before deciding to exploit or trade a stone. "The decision to first produce and then market a 'new' material is certainly a great deal of work." Ponzanelli said. "At first, our salespeople will use their sensitivity and market knowledge of regions such as the U.S., Europe or Asia to show us which materials would be most requested. Then our geologists and experts will advise us of the best quarries to exploit."

Looking at the international stone industry, Ponzanelli pointed to several nations around the globe as major consumers of natural stone. "The leading world markets for natural stone are Italy, China, Spain and Belgium, and we cannot overlook Brazil and India," he said, adding that these markets have well-established industries for processing stone blocks. "Next to these, we have markets interested in semi-finished slabs or finished products, including the U.S., Germany, the U.K. and France. We have also seen growth in stone consumption in some Eastern European countries. In the Far East, countries such as Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong still remain leaders in the market as dealers and end users of finished products."