It was that time of year again when we grabbed our passports and flew off to Verona for this year’s Marmomacc, the biggest stone, design and technology trade fair in the world.
What was astonishing from the outset was the sheer scale of the event and how small a part the UK currently plays in the global stone market, not only in how much stone we sell but also the development of machinery and consumables.
There was hall upon hall of stone from all over the world but it was disappointing that the UK was only represented by three quarries.
The reason perhaps being that the UK imports huge amounts of stone each year and exports very little. Frustrating as we have such fantastic natural stone reserves throughout the UK, which made us begin to think of our own export potential in the future.
Maybe we need to ask the question to whether the UK stone industry will change post Brexit? As the pound weakens, is there an opportunity for UK stone to be more enticing to the UK consumer as it becomes more cost effective and will there be a greater opportunity to export?
What was interesting is that as a company, we buy almost all of our machinery from abroad and so it was great to meet up with existing and new suppliers to discuss developments and how best to invest in the business.
It appears that technology is playing an increasing part in the stone industry and with such high-tech available, processing stone using water jet cutters, 6 axis saws and even robots makes the supply of stone more efficient, enabling suppliers like us to focus on stone trends including surface textures and finishes.
At the end of the day, the most important lesson for anyone visiting a trade fair of this size, is to make sure above all else, you pack a pair of comfy shoes!