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From stone to ceramics

Since it’s no longer active in the mining industry, Rigail today makes 63% of its sales volume out of ceramics

by Simona Storchi

The secret of the 2016 Cersaie Distributor Award winner is Baincthun stone. Rigail opened up in Saint Martin Boulogne in 1909, when the grandfather of the current owner’s began mining of the Baincthun stone, a natural stone also called bastard or fake stoneware, that takes its name from the very same small village North of France, a few miles from Boulogne.

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In 1974, due to the crisis, Antoine Rigail’s grandfather was forced to shut the mine down but kept handling this blue-veined stone, traditionally found in local castles and mansions, for fireplaces and floors. It is in the 80s that the family begins to work with Italian ceramic tiles. “The company began to import Italian ceramics in Northern France and sell them to small shops that couldn’t buy them directly”, explains Antoine Rigail, manager of the company which is now specialized in the distribution and sale of indoor and outdoor tiles, sanitary ware, wellness areas, fireplaces and marbles, all done through the use of numerical control machines.

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There is a 2,500 square metre showroom which is divided into four sections. “The sanitary ware and bathroom furnishings area was introduced in 1990 – continues the manager -. Today the area is unique, constantly filled with new products from the latest trends; we make sure product selection gets updated especially after each Cersaie edition».

Today Rigail makes around 10 million euros per year, of which 60% is from tiles. «Of all the tiles we sell, 85% are from italy – the manager continues – and that’s how it’s always been with us because we believe made in Italy means creativity, innovation, dynamism, design and quality». The main customers and channels of business are real estate developers, architects, big builders and private bodies and individuals in the North of France. «We are first and foremost consultants – explains – and we support customers in the selection of floor and wall tiles for schools, hospitals, town halls, restaurants, hotels, banks as well as for new apartments and home renovation».

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