European Ceramics: half a century of sales of Italian ceramic tile
Date:July 20, 2016
by Simona Storchi
A showroom that has made its mark in the Australian ceramic tile market. A group that for 50 years has been amongst the leaders in the Australian tile business and won the Confindustria Ceramica Distributor Award at Cersaie 2014.
European Ceramics, opened at 247 Oxford Street in Leederville, Western Australia in 1968, was the first showroom of its kind in Oceania. The company specialising in the ceramic floor and wall tile sector was set up in 1965 and is run by the Serra family. The founder’s son David is director of the two companies in the European Ceramics group (Euro Contracting and European Concepts), which has two showrooms (Osborne Park, extending over a floor space of about 1000 m2, and Mandurah, located some 70 km south of Perth), four warehouses and annual revenues of around € 22 million.
“It was very gratifying to be named distributor of the year,” said David Serra. “We work very hard and pride ourselves on our presentation of tiles and the expert advice we offer to all our customers, no matter how big or small that customer may be.” The company philosophy, mr. Serra explains, is to focus on new designs, new concepts and innovative solutions. “Made in Italy has always been the key to our success. We only associate ourselves with the best Italian brands, who have given us tremendous support over the years. David Serra dedicated the award to his entire team, who he says are “passionate and committed and have demonstrating an exceptional ability to evolve with the market over the years and offer customers an outstanding service”.
“For the first showroom in the late 1960s, Gardenia Orchidea sent out designers and installers to complete the overall layout and design of the showroom,” mr. Serra explained. Some fifteen years later the second showroom was built in Balcatta, a town further to the north. “This showroom changed the way tiles were displayed in traditional ceramic tile showrooms, adopting a far more modern approach to displays and layouts of products.” The family then decided to invest in a third showroom to display the latest and most innovative products available in the market, a kind of gallery of ceramic tiles. “Almost 50 years of history and a whole life dedicated to ceramics and building materials has been my passion and the passion of my family. My father passed away at a very early age hence we are so proud of the tradition and the legacy that he left us.”
European Ceramics was also one of the first companies in Western Australia to import tiles from Italy. “From the original small format patterned tiles and mosaics, we have moved with the times and trends of our market and now sell tiles of all shapes, sizes, finishes and colours. The most important part of our development is that we have never stopped, have never felt satisfied – we have always been able to change with the market demands. The saying is don’t be a “white elephant” – always move and move quickly with the times and market trends. To meet customers’ needs and provide an all-round service, European Ceramics was recently expanded into two business branches: European Concept which focuses on innovation and trends in the ceramic tile sector, as well as kitchens, sanitary ware, tables, indoor and outdoor furniture; and Euro Contracting which installs small and large-format tiles and cuts stone to size to create kitchen countertops and vanities. These two strategic branches share a very important factor: Made in Italy.
“Retail is one of our biggest areas, especially with the building boom that has taken place in the last 10 years in Western Australia, but interior designers and architects also play a very important role. Made in Italy has been a very important factor when dealing with these customers, who appreciate the taste, quality and added value of Italian ceramic tile.”
Italian products are a key factor for the Australian company. As its director explained, “I think the main difference is design, Italy’s ability to always set the trend in the market. Nobody does it better than the Italians. You can try to copy an Italian tile, but it is not ‘Italian’”, he said.
Italian brands: Florim Group (Floor Gres, Rex, Cerim), Casalgrande Padana, Lea, Bisazza, Sant’Agostino, Marazzi, Ragno, Gigacer, Leonardo.