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Market Analysis Poland Sustained Growth

Updated:2008-07-07 10:34:06

Poland is considered to be among the most dynamic economic markets in eastern Europe. Tombstones traditionally take up a large segment of the natural stone market with the building industry rapidly gaining ground.

Trade-fairs are a relection of the development in Poland's natural-stone branch: the well-known Kamien, to be held from 8th - 11th in November as always in Wroclaw, now has a rival, almost concurrently Glass and Stone taking place from 15th - 18th in Poznan.

Kamien's little sister may soon take over the lead position if both fairs don't cooperate or come to an agreement: Kamien's wellintended efforts remained efforts rather than deeds. One of the many draw-backs was that the show took place in an almost century-old circular building.

Poznan, on the other hand, has a modern fair-ground, centrally located. Also, the city is situated approximately half-way between Warshaw and Berlin, about three hours either way by train. In contrast there is only a local-train connection to Wroclaw.

 

The competition between the two sites relects the dynamics of the branch. According to insiders, Kamien was originally conceived as a sort of end-of-year meeting for masons and stonecutters and took place in November, as the season for tombstones came to a close.

 

In future, business will dictate the direction the branch will take, more precisely: big business. Poland is one of the most interesting and attractive markets for natural stone and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Two aspects justify this prediction: irst, Poland has a long tradition of building with natural stone. As a result, the people know the material - more still, they appreciate its value.

And second, communism and its hard-times are over now. The European Union has opened its coffers and money is lowing for the reconstruction. Oficial buildings, shopping-centers and ofice-towers are popping up everywhere setting themselves apart by their natural stone facades.

Tombstones

Let us focus our attention on a distinct facet of the Polish natural stone branch: tombstones. A long tradition in Poland dictates that a man works all his life in order to demonstrate his wealth and social standing. The larger and more opulent and ornate the tombstone, the greater his status. And the family of the deceased put their savings together to show their esteem of the deceased loved-one.

In Poland the entire surface of a grave is traditionally covered with a 5 - 6 cm stone slab, which explains the large market segment for theses sizes. Graves are not usu-ally covered with plants or grass. There is a large import-market for black and dark-grey slabs, the typical colours of mourning. A recent development is the import of natural stone slabs from Asia.

The great demand for natural stone tombs also has its roots in recent history: under communist rule, it was nearly impossible to buy natural stone tombs or slabs as almost all that was produced was for export. Stonecutters often diverted to terazzo or concrete. Now that the free market is once

again established, the old make-shift graveyard materials are being replaced by natural stone slabs.

Changes in the Final Restingplace

The market segment is not likely to decimate in the near future. There is no sign of a trend toward cremation as e.g. the Neth-erlands, Switzerland or Germany have experienced, where an ever-increasing segment of the population shy away from traditional graveyard burrials.

Some observers even hold that Poland would not follow such a trend in view of its deep Catholic roots. Nevertheless there are trends in the modern graveyard culture. Among the traditional black and dark coulours of mourning, visitors will see many coloured stones, some with distinct structures, possibly a future niche for individual design and materials.

Public Building Sector

Let us turn to the building sector. Whereas the national bureau of statistics GUS predicts growth in the gross national product of 5 - 6%, experts expect the building industry to enjoy an increase of around 8%. Structural deicits in public and commercial buildings - long neglected by the communists - are now being repaired. Two new airports are being built and all others refurbished. Investors, some from abroad, are constructing modern container ports along the baltic coast.

Most of the money for these projects comes out of the coffers of the European Union. 67 billion Euros (106 billion US-$*) have been ear-marked for these projects over the next 15 years. Together with funds from Poland, a total of 100 billion Euros (158 billion US-$) are due to be invested in public building projects in the near future.

 

A strong impulse is due to come from the European Soccer Championship to be held in Poland and the Ukrain in 2012. Experts expect a turnout of half a million guests and 180 Hotels to be built to house them.

 

Private Building Sector

Demand for natural stone will also increase in the private building sector. Next to an increase of 29% in the irst half of 2006 for new building permits, restauration and modernisation are important segments of the building industry. One market research institute estimated the yearly spending for building materials to come to 20 billion Zloty (9 billion US-$) in 2006. This equals an increase of 11% compared to the previous year, and a sustained growth-rate compared to the year before. Private spending is estimated to increase by 5%. Whereas there was a large market for cheap stone, more and more the trend favors products of higher value. Purchasing power and salaries increased by an average of 5% in 2006 compared to the previous year.

 

There is also a big market for suppliers of machines for processing and manufacturing natural stone products. Whereas previously the tendency was toward the purchase of used or riconditioned machinery, an ever increasing segment of the masonry and stonecutting industry are investing in new technology. This is clearly relected in the trade journals Nowy Kamieniarz und Swiat Kamienia.

Spectacular Building Projects

Next to every-day building-projects, investors seem to have discovered Poland as a favorite ground for the realisation of sensational proposals. To name but a few: Lilium-Hochhaus planed by architect Zaha Hadid and Zlota 44-skyscraper by Daniel Libeskind, new building sites in Warshaw. An impressive building complex dating back to the stalinist era was the Palace of Culture and Science.

 

Many foreign producers of natural stone have opened showrooms and stores in Poland. This is true not only of investors from India and China but also from Italy and Spain.

The pains of economic stagnation will soon be a thing of the past. ,If payment-moral further beneits from economic growth, Poland will be an excelent future market“ says the owner of one of the large Italian producers.

 

Sources: Statistics and data published by Federal Agency of the German Ministry of Economic Affairs.

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