Ceramic is an inorganic, non-metallic solid which may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous. Ceramic products are manufactured both in the large and small-scale sector with wide variation in type, size, quality and standard. India ranks 5th in the world in terms of production of ceramic tiles.
The ceramics industry in India came into existence about a century ago and has matured over time to form a industrial base. From traditional pottery making, the industry has evolved to find its place in the market for sophisticated insulators, electronic and electrical items. Over the years, the industry has been modernizing through new innovations in product profile, quality and design to emerge as a modern, world-class industry, ready to take on global competition.
Ceramic products are divided into four sectors which includes Structural, including bricks, pipes, floor and roof tiles; Refractories, such as kiln linings, gas fire radiants, steel and glass making crucibles ; Whitewares, including tableware, wall tiles, pottery products, and sanitary ware ; Technical ceramics which classified into three distinct material categories of oxides, non-oxides and composite.
A large and growing middle class population of more than 300 million people, a changing life style, better cost of living etc is growth drivers for this sector.With the growth in the housing sector the demand of ceramic is expected to increase. Indian tiles are competitive in the international market. These are exported to East and West Asian countries. The ceramics tiles industry in India emerged in the late 1950s with H & R Johnson setting up its plant for the manufacture of wall tiles at Thane near Mumbai. Spartek Ceramics joined in 1985. The booming demand for floor tiles prompted the entry of other players like Regency Ceramics, Kajaria Ceramics, Murudeshwar Ceramics, Bell Ceramics.
By basic product variation, the tiles market has three component segments: mosaic, ceramic, and natural stones. Mosaic tiles claim a 50 to 60% share. The ceramic tiles and natural stones share the rest almost equally. Natural stones also have three segments: granites, marbles and other stones, including Kota stone.
The ceramic tiles are available in at least three variations. They are floor tiles, wall tiles and vitrified tiles. These tiles are differentiated also by technology that is double firing (the older system) - roller/roller tunnel/tunnel and tunne1/roller; single firing (newer technology); and double face firing. Single firing is used for floor tiles while double firing continues to be used for wall tiles. Roller technology is more suitable for larger tiles and tunnel technology for smaller ones. The vitrified tiles are abrasion and acid resistant and do not absorb any moisture. They are suitable for places subject to heavy wear and tear like industrial and chemical plants, hotel lobbies, banks, special pavements.
In India, the per capita consumption is as low as 0.05 sqm compared to 0.6 and 5 sqm in China and Europe, respectively. Rising disposable incomes of the growing middle class and 40 mn units of housing shortage, however, hold out a reassuring potential for the industry. Over the last two de-cades, the technical ceramics segment has recorded an impressive growth propelled by the demand for high-alumina ceramics, cuttings tools and structural ceramics from the industry. Overall, the Indian ceramics industry has emerged as a major manufacturer and supplier in the global market.
The industry is capital-intensive although there is a sizable presence of the informal sector operating on smaller capital inputs. With new technology and large economic size, capital costs are high. So are working capital requirements because of the need to store a wide variety of products and long credits. A major change which took over the ceramic tiles industry was the introduction of wall tiles for bathrooms and kitchens and for floors in offices and for decorative hangings. The Indian industry developed an export market although at the lower-end. In volume, it constituted only about half-a-percent of the global market. The upper-end market is arrogated by Italy and Spain.
The tiles industry in India was facing very competitive conditions. There is dumping from China. Chinese landed price is below total costs of Indian producers. On the domestic front, organised sector has to compete with the unorganised sector which has the advantage of lower billings . The growth and demand for ceramic products in this sector has been further strengthened by the boom in the Indian real estate sector, which is registering 30 per cent growth per annum, for the last few years. The growth in the hospitality industry and the advent of new malls, commercial complexes and multiplexes also lend support to the growth prospects of this industry.
The wall tiles segment is dominated by H&R Johnson, SPL and Kajaria. In the floor tiles, Murudeshwar, Spartek, Kajaria, Regency and Bell Ceramics dominate. The top five, H&R Johnson, SPL, Kajaria, Spartek and Sun Earth account for more than 70% of the turnover of the organised sector.