"Revestir has been important for growing the Brazilian ceramic tile industry," said Cesar Gomes, president of Anfacer, the Brazilian ceramic tile association. "Revestir is becoming a truly international show," Gomes added, highlighting the dramatic increase in foreign attendance that the show has seen since last year. During a press conference held for the members of the press, Gomes stressed that the goal for Brazilian manufacturers now is to increase the quality of their products while maintaining the competitive pricing that has helped them to gain market share from their European competitors.
During Revestir, the members of Anfacer elected Adriano Lima as the new president of the organization. Lima, who is president of Brazilian ceramic tile manufacturer Gyotoku, discussed the goals of Anfacer during the coming year, which include changing the public's perception of Brazilian manufacturers and increasing Brazil's market share in the United States. "Brazil has achieved an excellent position in the market, in terms of quality, service and international marketing, Lima said. "Our goal for the next year is to improve our sector in these areas."
Lima explained that foreign exports currently account for approximately $342 million, of which the United States accounts for almost 50 percent. To increase their visibility in the U.S. market, Brazilian companies are planning to expand their presence at Coverings, Lima said. To date, 29 Brazilian companies are confirmed to exhibit at Coverings, an increase of more than 50 percent over last year.
Lima also stressed the importance of the Ceramic Center of Brazil, an independent organization that promotes new technologies for the ceramic industry in Brazil. This organization helps Brazilian companies to increase the quality if their products, which is a key focal point for the marketing of Brazilian ceramic tile worldwide.
"Brazilian companies are now producing quality products comparable to those from Spain or Italy, at a more competitive price," Lima said. "Brazilian companies are very diverse, offering a wide range of products at different price points."
This wide range of products was clearly evident from the many new product launches from Brazilian ceramic manufacturers at the show. Some of the highlights included new offerings from:
Portobello debuted two new slate look series, Indian Slate and African Slate; Pietre di Chambord, a double-press porcelain with a realistic stone appearance; and Next, a corten (weathered steel) look series available in three colors.
Chiarelli introduced two new lines, Versato, a porcelain series in 20-by-20-cm format in five colors; and Village, a 20-by-20-cm series designed to imitate the look of Rapolano stone.
Buschinelli introduced Living, a rustic stone look series available in three sizes in 32-by-40-cm format for walls and 40-by-40-cm format for floors, and Pele, a semi-polished design that imitates the look of leather.
Gyotoku introduced Legno, a new porcelain line that features an unusual wood look in four colors, Ebono, Bianco, Marfim and Mogno.
Ceusa introduced Legno, a realistic wood look series, and Cemento, a matte finish cement look available in 6 colors.
Portinari introduced Alicante, a glazed porcelain line available in two colors, and Roma, a rapolano look with real stone accent pieces. Brazilian Stones are three new series based on real Brazilian stones. Oxido, an unusual take on the corten look, is available in three sizes in 18-by-18-inch format.
One thing all the Brazilian manufacturers had in common is an optimistic outlook on U.S. sales for the coming year, as the companies prepare their newest products for Coverings 2005.
"We've seen a major increase in growth as a result of the weaker Euro," said James Schoelles, National Accounts Sales Manager, Portobello America, Inc.
Itagres has produced high-end products since 21 years ago. Founded in 1983 by Humberto Ghizoni Bortoluzzi, the company produces outstanding ceramic tiles with excellent quality, sophistication, beauty and design. Currently Itagres is one of the most important group manufacturers of the ceramic tile industry in Brazil, and its products are exported to 52 countries in all five continents.
The company is located in the city of Tubarao, at the margins of one of the main Brazilian highways - BR 101, in the south of Santa Catarina state. Its production sector utilizes the most up-to-date technology to offer a dazzling array of ceramic products to the market. Itagres produces more than 8 million square meters annually, of which one third is exported.
To offer the best in ceramic tile, the company often offers training to its 250 employees. In addition, retailers and installers also receive technical training to help them better accomplish their jobs.
SAC - Service of Attendance to the Consumer - is something that really works at Itagres, which shows the commitment of the company to its market and the confidence in its products. In this Service people get information on products, ways of application, technical data and mantainance.
Itagres is also a socially responsible company. It has developed social programs with the University of the South of Santa Catarina (Unisul). One of these is Pró-Serra Pra Todos, which helps the community and 250 families. The other is Floresce Tubarão, focused to the preservation of the environment.
Itagres' factory is located at Rod Br 101 - km 341 - Tubarão - Santa Catarina - Brasil Fone: +55 (48) 631-2000 Fax: +55 (48) 631-2020. www.itagres.com.br