Quality and trend: the best strategy to be successful on the market

The aim is to ensure that ceramic tiles penetrate the Austrian market in a stronger way than other materials do. To that extent a strong cooperation between the Austrian Association of ceramic tile manufacturers (Österreichischer Fliesenverband), the Austrian chemical industries Association (FCIO Fachverband der Chemischen Industrie Österreichs) and the Italian ceramic tile manufacturers under the label “Ceramics of Italy” has been established. It’s an advertising campaign carried out through radio, television and newspapars adverts aimed at the promotion of ceramics in Austria.
To get to know the values and objectives of this late agreement we have interviewed Gerhard Reiter, Vice President of the Austrian Association of ceramic tile manufacturers.
Reiter can observe the ceramics world from a twice privileged point of view: that of the Association and of C. Bergmann, the company whose tile sector he’s in charge of.
C. Bergmann has its headquarters in Linz, and can currently boast seven warehouses and 6 tile showrooms. It employs 300 people with an annual turnover of 100 m euros.

President Reiter, can you tell us how the late agreement signed between the Associations of Austrian chemical industries, Austrian tiles and Italian tiles was established and what it involves?
The three associations have started a strong cooperation to join efforts to give tiles the place and value they deserve. We have shared common resources to guarantee an even larger national distribution.
Major objectives have been set for the first three years. To promote ceramic tile features such as hygiene and climatic and energy-linked factors, particularly relevant to allergy sufferers, television, trade magazines and mainly radio will be used.

How has the campaign been launched?
We have succeeded in reaching 73% of the target of the group who is to build or renovate apartments in the next few years. Tile installers and industry multiply the effects of the campaign itself. To that extent, the new website deals with these new aspects of communication. Consumers will be able to go through a list of local tile installers through a simple online research.

What is the role of Confindustria Ceramica in all this?
Confindustria Ceramica lies exactly at the core of this campaign. For both our institutions this is a win win strategy: we promote tiles and the more their value increases the more we get close to our aim. From this point of view our partnership may well go on in the future to finance a long-term campaign. In order to do this the contribution and support of Confindustria Ceramica is fundamental.

What are the steps you have envisaged for the next few years?
There is so much to say on ceramic tiles that discussions on the theme are safe for the next 50 years at least! Yet, since not everything can be explained or said through words, some sort of mini – embassy towards the consumer is needed, so as to better reach their minds. First of all in the next future we want to establish the role of ceramic tiles for outdoor use while nibbling away at the market quotas of wood and carpet.

And now to C. Bergmann, the company you work for: what is the origin of its name?

C. Bergmann stands for Carl Borromäus Bergmann, the man who in 1860 set up one of the first companies to work in the concrete industry sector. The company has grown over several generations and is still owned by the Bergmann family. In a way it can be said that it has been trading tiles for almost 100 years. The activity started in Linz, and its first tiles can be seen in churches and public buildings all around the city.

What are the specialisations at the head office in Linz?
Linz head office works as a production and distribution centre in five sectors: construction materials, batching plants for the production of sewage waters, heat-insulated glazing, wholesale and retail trade of tiles and natural stone, and finally components (doors, gates, floors and so on).

Who are the company’s main clients?
Among our clients there are builders, private customers, architects. C. Bergmann currently supplies 640 showrooms with tiles.
The selection of tiles can be found in almost all main Austrian cities, in large showrooms ranging from 800 to 3000 sqm.

What are the main features of these showrooms?
To have a well presented space is of fundamental importance. Hence the development of a special tile collage wich, while allowing space saving, best highlights tiles’ qualities under the right illumination. That means that tiles can be combined in different ways according to personal taste under special lights imitating different lighting conditions. Tiles can therefore be observed under natural or artificial light. Furthermore we offer: top consulting service, a 3D website, high quality products, modern layouts and solutions.

Why does the company mainly rely on Italian made ceramic tiles?
Basically we want to continue supply modern, trendy, high quality products. And we believe that Italian ceramic tiles are at the same time creative, technologically advanced and well designed products.

What could Italian manufacturers do to enhance their position on the Austrian market? What should they change if they should change anything?
I can not give a good answer to that right now. Our trade relations at the moment are good and we are extremely satisfied about that.

Gerhard Reiter (1956) is Vice President of the Austrian Ceramic Tile Association  Over the last 16 years he has been Head of the tile sector for C. Bergmann, set in Traun, in the Linz district, Austria. Before that he had been working for 17 years in the company’s IT sector.
C. Bergmann has a total of 6 tile showrooms opened in Linz, Wien, Salzburg, Graz, Villach and Rankweil as well as 7 warehouses. It currently employs 300 people, half of which are sales consultants. Annual turnover is around 100 m euros, of which 35 millions come from the sale of tiles for bathrooms, living-rooms, outdoor terraces and swimming pools.

Italian brands distributed:
Atlas Concorde, Keope, LaFaenza, Marazzi, Monocibec, Refin, Supergres.