Trade fairs: Profound changes ahead

(August 2011) This year’s Stone+tec in Nuremberg saw 699 exhibitors, or 10% less than in 2009 (770). Two years prior the number was 963 and before that (in 2005) 1058 showed their goods and know-how at the fair.

Negative growth seen this year is particularly poignant as it occurred in the midst of a period of economic growth in the German economy. Some of the companies missing at this year’s fair, held from June 22nd to 25th in Nuremberg, showed at the Architect’s trade fair „Bau“ held in January in Munich instead.

Question: could the downturn at the Stone+tec be an indication of changes on the natural stone scene? Great Britain’s Natural Stone Show, Spain’s Piedra and the Beijing/Shanghai Stonetech all reported similar developments.

Admittedly: each faces its individual challenges. But let us take a look at the scene as a whole:

1) The global market has been split up between Verona’s Marmomacc and Xiamen’s Stone Fair. Further developments are awaited with suspense.

2) The next level is trade fairs in the main producing countries, i.e. Brazil’s Vitória Stone Fair, Turkey’s Marble in Izmir, and India’s Stona in Bangalore. Spain’s Piedra has all but disappeared in the midst of the current building branch crisis in the area. Notably more and more Chinese merchants are on the market for stone blocks. These purchases can be undertaken in Xiamen. Vitória is the prime trade ground for Latin America, Izmir could play the same role in the Middle East and Muslim countries of the former Soviet Union.

3) As far as the national trade Fairs are concerned, some seem to be seeking new orientation. Nuremberg’s Stone+tec could become the central market place for Central- and Northern Europe, as could Poznań’s Kamien-Stone for Eastern Europe and Russia.

4) Other trade fairs pursue different priorities: Carrara’s Marmotec is dedicated to design, as is Beijing/Shanghai’s Stonetech.

Can anything else be deduced from the current Stone+tec statistics? Indeed, and very clearly at that: Chinese exhibitors were the only group to show an increase – from 84 to 118! This was not readily apparent when touring the fair, as Chinese stands are usually small and unspectacular and because this time sales staff held back.

Note that the Chinese exhibitors overtook the Italians (117) at least by numbers for the first time. Germany’s heavy machinery and stone markets were previously dominated by Italian producers.


Update/Reader’s opinion: (August 2011) Emerson Schwartzkopf, editor of the US-Magazine Stone Business, wrote us: „China did indeed show an increase in Nürnberg in 2011, but it’s still far, far behind the 173 Chinese companies exhibiting in 2005. Without the large Chinese contingent in the mid-2000s, Stone+tec would have posted lesser numbers, as the Italians had already begun their withdrawal. In 2003, Italian companies made up 240 of the exhibitors; in 2005, that total dropped to 179 (and almost put them behind the China contingent six years ago).”


Our photos below show some examples of unusual stands and design ideas. The Stone+more Innovation Award winner will be presented in the 2nd August edition of

Natural stone market in Germany

Consumption of finished stone products was up 5.9% by value and 8.6% by tonnage according to the Natural Stone Organization Naturwertsteinverband (DNV). Imports were up (value: +10.2% to 322 million €, tonnage: +7,6% to 796.000 t). The organization sees growth potential particularly for export markets. Local production declined by value -3.1% to 310 million €), but increased by tonnage (+8.0% to 1.22 million t).

Germany’s trade organization for machinery Verband der Maschinenbauer (VDMA) presented its figures as well: local markets are strongest in purchasing products made in Germany; a mere 60% are destined for export, low by German standards. An increase in demand is expected by the organization from Russia and the former Soviet Republics. Australia „has developed to a small but nevertheless successful market for German machinery in the last few years“, according to a press release.

Machinery for mass production or semi-automated production face sharp foreign competition. German technology is „in particular demand where efficient factory production is required“, according to the trade organization.