Thursday, 4 February 2010

Is there a future for pottery manufacture in Europe?

This is a big subject and worthy of debate! Over the last 20 years the ceramic industry in Europe has undergone massive change.

The tableware sector (cups & plates etc) in Europe has seen severe downsizing with manufacture shifting to the lower cost economies in China and Asia. The change in consumer habits in western europe to less formal dining has meant a change in perception of pottery from a collectable item to a throwaway one. This is particularly noticeable with the younger generation who want fashionable ware for casual dining.The result has been a massive reduction in demand for the high value products and a growth in lower value products. This has been reinforced (in the UK) by the growth in supermarket sales by companies such as Tesco who constantly drive down prices forcing manufacturers to import or close down. That said there is still a place for the niche manufacturer who can move quickly with new and quality designs. Brand value is still important in this higher end sector.

The giftware sector (figures and decorative ware) has also been hit by the same trends as above. Collectable figures and plates are less popular among the younger generation whilst fashionable branded giftware has been more popular. Again there is a lot of competition in this sector from Asian imports so strong brands and new designs are critical to success.

To answer the question- is there a future -the answer is yes but only for the niche manufacturer who can be constantly innovative and build a brand of value. Speed of new products to market will be a critical factor!

What do you think? I would be happy to recieve your comments.

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