With Italy joint venture, Monalisa smiles with innovative tile products

By QIU QUANLIN in Foshan, Guangdong province | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-05 08:15

With Italy joint venture, Monalisa smiles with innovative tile products

A worker observes the printing effect in the workshop of the Monalisa Group Co in Foshan, Guangdong province. XINHUA

Chinese ceramic tile maker Monalisa Group Co has launched a production unit in Italy, a joint venture with Gruppo Romani SpA. Industrie Ceramiche, a major Italian tile manufacturer.

Chinese ceramic tiles of Monalisa have a distinct niche in the market. Gruppo has a history of nearly half a century. Their joint venture is expected to improve Monalisa tiles' quality.

"The products, designed and made in Italy, will be sold in the Chinese market. It will be a great step for us to strengthen our self-owned brands and improve quality," said Yang Xiaolin, corporate planning director of Monalisa.

The plant will start operations by the end of this year, Yang said. The agreement for the joint venture plant was signed in September last year.

"Launching the production base in Italy is of great significance for us. It will boost our global investment and business, especially along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road," said Yang.

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, known together as the Belt and Road Initiative, were proposed in 2013 with the aim of building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes.

Like appliance and tech major Midea, Monalisa is based in Foshan of Guangdong province. Past tie-ups with other Italian tile makers had helped Monalisa to improve competitiveness, quality and design of its products, making them worthy of the global market, Yang said.

Since 2010, the company has worked closely with Italy's SRS and IRIS as well as Italian equipment companies such as SACMI, L&B and CMF to develop innovative products.

"We are now no more a single processor of Italian tiles. We can now jointly develop new technologies and launch more innovative products," said Yang.

As one of the world's leading ceramic tile manufacturers, Monalisa sells in more than 40 countries and regions. The company, founded in 1992, has introduced 3-D technology in processing, helping its products to become more competitive in the emerging market.

"We have forged tie-ups with construction material operators in other countries, which helped develop a sustainable business growth in the overseas market," said Yang.

Traditionally, Chinese tile makers have been selling their products on per-project basis in the global construction industry.

According to Yang, the company is planning to open more flagship stores in Southeast Asia, an important market for sales of Chinese tiles.

"We will display more self-innovated products in overseas stores, aiming to improve the brand of Chinese tiles and boost sustainable business growth," said Yang.

The company, whose sales reached 2.2 billion yuan ($318.7 million) in 2016, owns seven wholly owned subsidiaries, 19 construction tile processing lines and two light new material construction lines, producing more than 30 million square meters of tiles annually.

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