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Markets: „going for export“

(January 2010) The Spanish natural stone industry is presently stuck between a rock and a hard place what with the world wide financial crisis and problems on the national marketplace. Nevertheless, Manuel Sánchez Pérez, head of the Andalusian Marble Association FDP ran for the office of the President and was elected equivocally in June 2009. BusinessStone.com (ssS) spoke with him on his visions for the local stone branch.

ssS: What must Spanish companies do to recover from the financial crisis?

Manuel Sánchez Pérez: The present crisis in the financial sector has repercussions for all branches of business as well as for the stone branch specifically. The heterogeneous character of the branch makes it very difficult to make any sort of recommendation applicable across the board. But since the foreign markets are recovering, a development not yet felt locally, we, the members of the Association, feel that exports are the golden path to the future, a path which has already paved the past 10 years of trade.

ssS: Where do you see openings for the Spanish natural stone branch on the international market?

Manuel Sánchez Pérez: The Association will be represented at a number of fairs in 2010 around the world. That will allow companies to elicit – and we hope also find – niches for their products on the global market in the months ahead. We have the support of the Spanish Foreign Trade Institute . We also plan to publish a catalogue with our stones directed at architects and contractors on an international scale. The catalogue is conceived as a marketing instrument for our members.

ssS: Must Spain forge ahead with innovative products?

Manuel Sánchez Pérez: No doubt: innovation is a constant challenge for the branch. Even if there are companies which have already earned acclaim in the field, I think this is the path of the future. We must position ourselves to offer higher quality designer products.

ssS: what is the unique selling opportunity of Spain’s natural stone branch as compared to that of competitors?

Manuel Sánchez Pérez: We set ourselves apart of our competitors by fulfilling our client’s product and supply specifications. One of our strongest points of distinction is the fact that the Spanish stone branch has been investing heavily in innovative processes and technologies in the past years.

ssS: For years now the Association has endorsed the use of local natural stone. Why did the Government not take up this initiative?

Manuel Sánchez Pérez: The natural stone branch is closely intertwined with the building industry which is one of the strategically most important tiers of business at this time. But the consequence is that the building industry is presently experiencing a difficult phase. This may be an opportunity for introspection. A period of adaptation to new challenges such as pronounced use of natural, renewable, materials – natural stone’s strength, when you consider that its durability far exceeds that of other building materials.

ssS: which is your single most important goal before the end of your term 2012?

Manuel Sánchez Pérez: The Association pursues two important paths: the national and the international. On a national level we want to ensure that the public, officials and society in general acquire more knowledge about natural stone and the significance of our branch for our Nation. On an international level we aim to discover new markets in which our Spanish companies can position themselves on the market. We also aim to promote the „Stone from Spain“ slogan as a synonym for quality and value for the money delivered by our companies.

Federación Española de la Piedra Natural (FDP)

Online-publication Piedra Natural (Spanish)

Trade fair Piedra, Madrid, 5.-8. May 2010

Global Stone Congress, Alicante, 2.-5. March 2010,