Business Overview (Introduction)

Indian export of granite and marble crossed Rs 4,000 crore mark during 2009-10, with the US accounting for bulk of the consumption (40 per cent). As per All India Granite and Stones Association (AIGSA), which estimated a 10 per cent increase in overseas sales during 2009-10 found the export market no more lucrative

All exporters are reporting good sales. But the profit growth is flat on account of rupee appreciation. In fact, some exporters are registering drop in profit since the third quarter of the present fiscal, The exporters are looking at the domestic market for growth, but they feel it is not attractive when compared to other countries. Indian granite retail industry is not organised. Consumers tend to bargain unlike the US where fixed prices are in operation for seasons.

The granite industry, plagued with large-scale sickness a few years ago, is currently on the revival path. The strengthening of euro and the growing demand for natural products in the US have paved the way for increased granite exports to the West.

Consequently, the value of granite exports from the country crossed Rs 2,000 crore last fiscal as against Rs 1,400 crore in 2001-02. Industry sources told Business Line that many sick granite units, located in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu (the three States account for 80 per cent of the granite business in India), have started operations once again following one-time settlement of their dues to banks and financial institutions. Apart from growing exports, increasing demand for granite products in the domestic market has also helped the industry to come out of its sickness.

In Hyderabad alone major granite companies that have turned sick and referred to the BIFR have re-started their operations in the past two years. These include La Mansion Granites, Deccan Granites and Vajra Granites.

Another major granite company, Jaswal Granites, was sold to a Bangalore-based entrepreneur. The financial institutions that have lent money to the company sold the outfit under one-time settlement scheme and the new management had revived its operations.

Following the revival of the industry, the granite manufacturers here, in association with the Andhra Pradesh government, are planning to hold an international granite exhibition at Hyderabad in January next year.

According to Mr Gautam Chand Jain, Chairman of Pokarna Granites, which grossed a turnover of Rs 100 crore last fiscal, the exhibition is expected to attract over 1,000 foreign visitors.

The Pokarna's Managing Director, Mr G. Krishna Rao, told Business Line that 90 per cent of the companies that have turned sick in South India have been revived and started operations.

In the case of Karnataka, apart from the revival of sick units, new companies have come into existence. Mr N.V. Rattaiah, Managing Director of Divyashakti Granites, said that his company had also posted a net profit of Rs 1.5 crore last year after repayment of a principal loan amount of Rs 7 crore to banks as a one-time settlement.

Stone is a natural solid formation of one or many minerals. There are thousands of types of stone that have been quarried through the centuries. Quarries are located all around the world. A majority of natural stone comes from Italy, Spain, Turkey, United States, Mexico, China, Taiwan, India, Greece, Canada, France, and Brazil.

The minerals in stone came from the same liquid and gas minerals that formed the earth. The Earth developed as a massive body of gas and liquid minerals that slowly cooled and condensed to a solid core. Through pressure, the Earth's crust began to form and heavy minerals were forced down to the core of the Earth where they were trapped. As the crust got thicker, it squeezed around the inner core which created intense pressure and heat from within the Earth. Crystals and other solid forms began to grow from the mineral vapors that were being released. As the Earth's crust began to expand and erode, heat and pressure pushed the solid minerals up to the Earth's surface which formed colossal rock beds. It took up to one-hundred million years to form some of these beds. Many of the beds are now used as quarries where the stone is mined.

Most of these minerals can be identified by their color, hardness, and crystal formation. Crystals come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The wide array of these minerals are often difficult to identify. Many stones look very similar to each other; however, they are all very different.

It is imperative to know the exact type of stone that is to be maintained. Stone is natural and may have adverse reactions to certain cleaning chemicals and procedures. Most stones are also natural alkalis and so are dirt and soil; therefore, stone and dirt are attracted to each other which often makes cleaning very difficult. This makes the proper selection of cleaning procedures and chemicals for stone very complex.