10 trends in the Poland stone industry in 2012
1. There has been a slowdown in the number of private sector projects coming in the market in second half of the year. Many of these projects are now in state of stand-bye.
2. The Polish market for natural stone became even more price conscious as a result of a more difficult environment.
3. Increased price sensitivity meant that cheap Chinese stones were increasing their market share.
4. Black colored stones, granite or basalt or whatever, continued to be in fashion, both for decoration, as a building material or in the funerary monuments segment. Poland is probably the biggest market for black colour natural stones outside China.
5. Many stone suppliers were suffering from delays in payments for stone supplied for projects.
6. Because of delays in receiving money for stone supplied in projects, more and more stonemasons started reorienting their business towards home renovation and decoration segment where the margins tend to be higher. Big sized projects are no longer seen as attractive by stonemasons, but as being risky.
7. The optimism of recent years has been replaced by greater sense of realism and awareness of risks and need for professionalism.
8. Investment in new machinery for the workshops went down significantly. The subsidies allotted from the European Union funds, sometimes amounting to as much as 50 % of the value of the machinery, was no longer big enough to meet the demand and only a few stonemasons were able to avail of these funds.
9. Change in regulations in Poland whereby the social insurance money given to relatives of the recently dead people was reduced by 50 %, led to a steep fall in demand for tombstones. A part of this money was traditionally used by relatives to purchase tombstones for their loved ones, with the dramatic fall in the money available, many people were now not able to afford even cheap Chinese made tombstones.
10. Till recently banks in Poland used to give credit freely for buyers of houses, sometimes as much as 120% of the value of the houses. In 2012, bank credit for home purchasing was sharply tightened, sometimes to only 20% of the value of the home. Result, sales of houses dropped sharply in Poland. Inventory of unsold homes, while nowhere being the levels of Spain, was increasing. Only the demand of luxury houses of the upper class continued to be undiminished.
NOTE: Our thanks to Pawel Bereza for his insights and information.