The tiling industry gears up for its big night

The Annual TTA Awards are getting close now.  On Friday 19th May, the Radisson Blu Portman Hotel, Central London, is the place to be. This year has seen impressive numbers of very high quality entries, so you can be sure of an interesting night, as well as great entertainment as the TTA raises the roof with this year’s burlesque theme.

There are still seats available for the tiling industry’s gala event of the year. Individual tickets are £175 + VAT, while tables for ten cost £1,575 + VAT and £1,400 + VAT for additional tables of ten.

There are also still sponsorship opportunities available, including Category sponsorships, which are £2,500 per category. This is very good opportunity for the sponsoring company to be associated with success and raise its own brand profile. It includes the opportunity for a company representative to go up on stage to present the Award.

Many thanks once again to this year’s Gold sponsors: Ardex, BAL, Bellota, Impey, Norcros Adhesives and Tilemaster Adhesives.

The Tile Assocxiation is growing stonger by the day
As more and more businesses and individuals within the tiling industry come to understand and appreciate the benefits of the work that the TTA is doing and the specific benefits of membership, so we see membership numbers steadily increasing.

This year, in particular, there seems to be a step change in the numbers of new applicants for membership.

The first three months of the year have seen a 143% increase in membership applications. This is coming from all across the board, all categories of membership, but in particular from independent fixers.

No doubt this reflects the various initiatives that the Association has had in place to attract them into membership, but in particular it results from the fact that fixers are recognising the many benefits that TTA membership brings them.

These include sales leads, technical and business support and training, as well as the level of reassurance that TTA membership provides to customers.

In line with this trend, the TTA is also seeing an increase in the number of Technical Inspections carried out – up 25% for the first three months of the year. Our highly trained and experienced inspectors can assess a job against the relevant British and European Standards and provide evidence which can if necessary be used in court.

Special accolade for Skillbuild winner Gordon Cook in March
The Worshipful Company of Tylers & Bricklayers has made a special presentation to the 2016 winner of Skillbuild. This competition, organised by CITB, and supported by Crown Paints, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors, The Tile Association and the Stone Federation, has taken place for over 40 years. It aims to find the most highly skilled young apprentices in their chosen trade.

The Winner in the Wall & Floor Tiling category for 2016 was Gordon Cook of Glasgow, City of Glasgow College, employed by A De Cecco Ltd.  He overcame stiff competition from Kieran Brown of Northumberland from Plunkett Tiling; Lee Hembury, of Cardiff & Vale College; Keiran Milnes Leeds College Of Building from Shea Tiling: Alan Orchard of St Helens College; Brandon Richards of Moulton College; Jordan Smith of City of Glasgow College from Keith Milne Tiling; and Sam Pickles of Leeds College of Building

Gordon Cook, with his tutor from City of Glasgow College, Andrew Pollock, attended an Awards Evening hosted by the Worshipful Company at Trinity House in Central London in March. The Awards lunch is an annual event, which seeks to reward individuals who have excelled in their various disciplines. The Awards are presented across three different craft categories: Wall and Floor Tiling, Roofing and Slating, and Bricklaying.

Gordon Cook won the Wall & Floor Tiling Award at Skillbuild last year.  In all, 78 competitors took part in the finals, which were held at the NEC in mid-November, spread across ten categories.
The TTA has a long history of support for SkillBuild as it attaches particular importance to the ongoing work to drive up skill levels in our industry, working in particular with young independent fixers.

Throughout the year the TTA does much through its Training Committee, on seminars, developing qualifications and promoting training awards.

Bob Howard MBE, TTA Director and Chairman of the Training Committee, says: “It was really inspiring to be able to recognise the achievements of this young man at the Annual Awards Event of the Worshipful Company of Tylers & Bricklayers. It was a prestigious event which reflected well on the efforts of the TTA to raise the bar even further with regard to training and skills development for young people who are just starting out in our industry.”

TTA seeks industry views on import tariff duties
Possible changes are on the way for import tariffs, currently imposed on Chinese tiles imported into Europe.

Anti-dumping tariffs have been in place since September 2011, when the current measures were put in place.

Their intention has been to protect EU ceramic tile manufacturers from the possibly destabilising effects of large quantities of heavily-subsidised Chinese tiles being imported.

The import duties which have been levied vary between 30.6% and 69.7%, depending on whether the companies involved co-operated with the initial investigations or not. The majority of companies did.

There were no tariffs imposed on the import of natural or agglomerated stone tile products.

Two things happened last year which have changed the situation.  Firstly the initial round of tariffs was only due to last five years and, therefore, expired in September 2016.

It is likely that they will be renewed and their level for the coming five years is currently being reviewed. Changes to the methodology of their calculation is under discussion within the EU.

The second factor is, of course, that the UK is embarking on a process of leaving the EU, and will, therefore, have an option of whether to follow the EU tariff, when agreed, or to set its own in individual discussions with China.

So the industry needs good transitional arrangements in place during the process of exiting the EU.

Much of the recent discussion on this issue in the UK has been focussed on the wider ceramics market, the requirements of which are not necessarily the same as those of the tiling sector, due to the wider prevalence of UK ceramics manufacturers in the sanitaryware and tableware sectors.

Currently there are only two significant manufacturers of ceramic wall tiles in the UK and no manufacturers of ceramic floor tiles.

Therefore, to agglomerate employment figures in the ceramic tile manufacturing sector with those in the general ceramics sector is to overstate the importance of tile manufacturing for the UK tiling sector.

The TTA is keen to canvass the views of the tiling sector specifically, which is why it is contacting the industry about this issue now.

The TTA welcomes comments on the following questions sent to info@tile.org.uk

  • Do you support the continuation of import tariffs against Chinese manufacturers of ceramic wall and floor tiles?
  • Do you think these should be extended to include, for example, natural stone wall and floor tiles?
  • Do you think the level of tariff is about right, or should it be changed?
  • What effect would higher tariffs have on your business?
  • What effect would lower tariffs have on your business?
  • What transitional arrangements should be put in place to support the UK industry during the process of exiting the EU?