The sixth edition of the International Natural Stone Fair, Piedra 2006, which was held from May 10 to 13 in Madrid, Spain, presented a strong international flavor and achieved some highly favorable results, organizers report. The fair, which featured the participation of 873 direct exhibitors, had a net exhibition area of over 280,000 square feet throughout the halls of the Feria De Madrid. It welcomed the largest number of visitors in its history - 29,000 in all. This figure represents a 7.4% increase compared to the last edition, and confirms the considerable interest that this event generates among professionals from the industry.

Attendees came from the U.S., the countries of the European Union, Mexico, Korea, Japan and the Gulf countries, which are all priority markets due to their status as leading importers of natural stone throughout the world. In this respect, due to the selection of buyers carried out by IFEMA in conjunction with the Marble Institute of America (MIA) and the Hudson Economic Group, this edition witnessed an almost three-fold increase in the number of professionals from the U.S.

For these visitors and for Spanish companies interested in doing business in new areas, a “Welcome Meeting” was organized on the first day of the fair, where the participants were given an opportunity to discover the new trends and characteristics of both markets through the presentations delivered by a number of renowned experts in the field, including: Manuel Regueiro, on behalf of the FDP; Gary Distelhorst, on behalf of MIA; and Lloyd Henry, on behalf of the Hudson Economic Group.

In order to mark the staging of Piedra 2006, the fair also hosted the presentation of the Piedra 2006 Architecture Awards, an initiative undertaken by IFEMA and the Spanish Natural Stone Federation, FDP, with a view to promoting the use of Spanish natural stone and promoting a greater awareness of its richness, quality and decorative qualities within the building sector.