With the region’s huge population, rising incomes, and increasing urbanisation, the tile market in South Asia is recovering from the shocks that disrupted demand and supply. A combination of high energy prices and supply disruptions led to increased costs and squeezed margins, while a series of shocks, from pandemic lockdowns to high inflation and interest rate, dampened demand.
Adversity, however, can often lead to a rise in resilience as well as a shift in how people look at things and how they perceive them. Economic hardships that resulted from these tough times forced tile manufacturers to increase efficiency and resilience. This change has been particularly noticeable in the energy sector, where manufacturers are switching from fossil fuels to cheaper, renewable alternatives such as biofuels where possible and expanding facilities to handle supply disruptions more effectively. A shift in consumer preference towards large tiles and glazed vitrified tiles (GVT), which have higher margins, should also contribute to manufacturers’ profitability. Considering that production and consumption of tiles in the region are both increasing, Rohan Gunasekera anticipates a bright future for the tile market in the region.
The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has a number of heavy clay product manufacturers investing heavily in the clay industry in order to meet the future market demand, which, notes Jahir Ahmed, will increase as the construction sector grows in the second half of this decade. Although the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the global recession have affected regional markets, he reports that the construction sector in that region is improving rapidly, as workers have returned to projects following the resolution of COVID-19 issues. Furthermore, the approach of the respective governments in these countries to implement policies to upgrade conventional brick kilns to modern technology and automate production during the past few years has also contributed greatly. It is for this reason that ASEAN will benefit from this decision both in the short and long term, he states.
A major consumer of ceramic tiles and sanitaryware products in the Middle East Asia region, Saudi Arabia is one of the largest markets in the region. According to Yogender Singh Malik’s analysis, ceramic tile consumption in Saudi Arabia is expected to rise in the coming years as a result of a number of factors, including government initiatives such as the Housing Programme and Vision 2030. Additionally, given that many GCC and African countries import ceramic tiles and sanitaryware, Saudi Arabia exports may be able to find their way onto their shores. All this should be good news for a country intent on becoming a major player not only in the tile sector but in the ceramics sector in general.