From the Grand Mosque in Mecca to the Shanghai Opera, Greek marble exports have been growing amid rising international demand and as Greek producers turn to foreign markets to expand their business.
In the past five years, Greek marble exports more than doubled to close to €300 million a year, with fine Greek marble – such as the ultra-white varieties from northern Greece – increasing their market share against Italy’s famous but more expensive Carrara marble.
Much of the increase has been fuelled by China’s ongoing construction boom. Since 2014, Greek marble exports to China have almost tripled and last year China accounted for more than three quarters of Greek exports. But Greek marble is increasingly gracing public and private monuments from Singapore to Abu Dhabi.
Boasting more than two dozen varieties and thanks to shifting tectonic plates in the age of the dinosaurs, Greek marble has been famous since ancient times. The marble of Mount Penteli, north of Athens, was famously used for the building of the Parthenon, while the coarse grained marble of Paros island in the central Aegean was considered among the ancient world’s best marbles for sculpture.
Nowadays, some of the pure white marbles quarried in northern Greece – a variety often associated with the island of Thassos – are particularly prized for their heat reflecting quality and are in high demand in the Middle East.
Even as Greek marble exports grow overseas, the industry is also undergoing a consolidation at home. In the past few years, Greece’s two major marble companies – Iktinos Hellas and Pavlides Marble Granite – have been expanding. In 2017, Pavlides paid €73 million for a majority stake in Mermeren Kombinat, owner of a top quality marble quarry in North Macedonia. And late last year, Iktinos announced a €29 million investment plan that includes, among other things, the acquisition of a new quarry in northern Greece and the licensing of a quarry in the Peloponnese.
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