Summary of our market study

The global market for porcelain tableware was valued at $22.1 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.3% from 2022 to 2031. However, the French porcelain industry has been facing a steady decline in the number of employees, reflecting a trend towards outsourcing. The French market must also contend with intense international competition, particularly from Asia, and the emergence of counterfeit products. Despite these challenges, exports continue to play a crucial role, accounting for almost 50% of the sector's sales.

A notable trend in French porcelain is the growing recognition of Limoges porcelain, which is protected by a "geographical indication" and celebrated for its quality. As of 2020, the minimum French production value of porcelain estimated from available data was around 100.6 million euros, while the French trade balance for porcelain showed a deficit, with imports reaching nearly $470 million and exports at $214 million in 2021.

European Regulation 1935/2004 ensured that materials used in porcelain do not compromise consumer health, and anti-dumping customs duties of 17.9% were introduced to protect the market. 

Evolving Consumption Patterns Impacting Porcelain Demand in France

The French porcelain market is witnessing a transformation influenced by changing household preferences, economic factors, and shifts in cultural practices. As porcelain stands as a symbol of luxury and tradition, its niche market is highly susceptible to the country's household purchasing power. With a steady rise in this power averaging between 1% to 2% annually, peaking at around 2.6%, the market for luxury goods like porcelain could expect to see some positive trends. However, despite the gradual increase in disposable income, household consumption of ceramic tableware seems to have experienced a downturn.

There was a reported decline from approximately 537 million euros to around 505 million euros in ceramic consumption value. This suggests that even with greater purchasing power, ceramics, which include porcelain, may no longer be a priority for consumers. This shift could be attributed to the change in family dining habits, with fewer families gathering for meals at the table. A notable survey indicates that nearly a third of French no longer adhere to this traditional mealtime routine. French preferences also appear to move towards practicality and modern aesthetics. While older age groups, particularly those over 55, seem to hold onto the traditional sentiment of keeping porcelain for special occasions (about 25%), younger generations are less inclined to do so, with less than 15% of the 25 to 34 age bracket owning special occasion tableware.

Adding to the challenges, the porcelain market needs to combat the prevalence of counterfeit products. Counterfeit porcelain, while replicating the look of genuine articles, may compromise the integrity of craftsmanship and quality the industry prides itself on. However, experts utilize intricate techniques to determine the authenticity of porcelain pieces, looking into the natural white paste, age, presence of amalgams, micro-scratches, glaze irregularities, and distinctive decoration styles. Market dynamics further demonstrate that colored porcelain significantly leads sales, constituting around 80%, compared to traditional white porcelain, which represents only about 20%. This indicates a clear trend towards diversity and personal expression in consumer choices.

In terms of the trade balance, France exhibits a notable deficit, importing more porcelain goods than it exports. With an import value close to 470 million dollars and an export total of around 214 million dollars in the year 2021, it is apparent that international competition impacts French producers. 

Luminary Artisans of French Porcelain - A Dive into Craftsmanship and Prestige

In the picturesque landscape of French luxury and artisanal heritage, several names stand out as the standard-bearers of porcelain excellence, each with a unique story that weaves into the rich tapestry of this refined industry.

  • Bernardaud: A beacon of porcelain innovation, Bernardaud's foundations were laid in 1863, set on a path that intersects tradition with modernity. As a dynastic enterprise passed down through generations, it has garnered global recognition for having pioneered isostatic pressure—a sophisticated technique in porcelain production. Bernardaud stands as a testament to artisanal genius, marrying the ancestral crafts of yesteryear with the cutting-edge techniques of today.

  • Royal Limoges: Esteemed as the most ancient porcelain house, Royal Limoges was established in 1797. Its roots delve deep into French artisanship, boasting the last large round kiln in France—a relic that harkens back to the age-old methods of creation. What's more emblematic is its use of driftwood to fire the kilns and the harvesting of its very own kaolin quarries, ensuring each piece is as authentically Limoges as it can be.

  • Haviland: Founded in 1842, Haviland stands proud as the guardian of traditional manufacturing methods, which has ensured the brand's position as a market leader in decorative table porcelain. Renowned for outstanding gold inlays crafted by hand, Haviland's pieces are a statement of elegance and opulence—a blend of meticulous craftsmanship and artistic flair.

  • Jacques Pergay: A relatively younger player in the grand chronicles of Limoges porcelain, Jacques Pergay emerged on the scene in 1993. In a short span, it has carved out a reputation for traditional manufacturing techniques that result in exquisitely handcrafted pieces. Proudly boasting the "Entreprise du patrimoine vivant" label, Jacques Pergay continues to honor the essence of hand-made creation.

The legacy of Limoges porcelain is not only carried by these torchbearers but also protected and preserved through a collective commitment to maintaining unparalleled standards of quality. As connoisseurs of beauty and history continue to cherish these marvels, the luminary artisans of French porcelain remain the guardians of a heritage that is unequivocally revered the world over.

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1 Market overview

1.1 Introduction and scope of study

Porcelain is a fine, translucent ceramic produced from kaolin by firing at over 1200°C. The primary use of porcelain is for tableware. There are two main types of porcelain: hard and soft. Advanced porcelain manufacturing techniques arrived late in France (19th century), although they were already present in China in the 17th century. Nevertheless, Limoges porcelain is recognized for its quality and is even protected by a "geographical indication".

Since 2010, the number of employees in the French porcelain industry has been steadily declining, reflecting the fact that manufacturing processes are increasingly being outsourced outside France. Sales generated by the porcelain market are being severely tested by the boom in ceramic tableware in China, which is gradually replacing traditional porcelain.

To withstand the crisis, players in the porcelain market are banking on the development of exports, which already account for almost 50% of the sector's sales. However, with changes in Chinese demand, the structure of exports to customer countries has been weakened.

The French porcelain market has to contend with intensifying international competition, particularly from Asia, which is regularly illustrated by the use of counterfeit products. The city of Limoges has taken steps to secure recognition of the brand at national and European level.

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Market size for porcelain tableware
  • Number of establishments and employees in ceramics and porcelain production
  • Value of ceramic production (tableware)
  • Value of porcelain production (decoration)
  • Porcelain production price trend
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Latest news

Hermès continues to raise prices - 09/02/2024
  • - Hermès sales in 2023 will be 13.4 billion euros, up 16% on the previous year and 21% at constant exchange rates.
  • - Net income is up 28% to 4.3 billion euros.
  • - Hermès has a market value of 231 billion euros.
  • - Hermès has increased its prices by 8 to 9% in 2023.
  • - 22,000 Hermès employees worldwide.
  • - More than 60% of new jobs created in France, where Hermès manufactures three quarters of its products.
Bernardeau: Limoges porcelain, the largest industrial sector in the area - 04/09/2023
  • Société Bernardaud is Limoges' leading porcelain manufacturer, with 700 employees.
  • The Porcelaine de Limoges association includes some 30 manufacturers, whose leaders (Bernardaud, Haviland, Guy Degrenne, Raynaud...) generated sales of over €80 million and over 900 jobs in 2017.
  • Bernardaud has embarked on a €10 million multi-year investment plan to double its production.
  • The Limoges porcelain sector has grown by 50% in three years.
Hermès, champion of luxury growth - 29/07/2023

Hermès sales growth: 25% in the first half.

Planned openings: four new leather goods stores by 2027.

Luxury: Hermès, the quiet force of luxury gallops on - 28/07/2023
  • Hermès sales reached over 6.6 billion euros in the first six months of the year. Sales were up 25%.
  • Sales in Asia were up 28%.
  • Sales in the United States rose by 20%, in Europe by 22% and in France by 24%.
  • Continued rapid growth in Hermès sales, with a particularly strong performance in Asia and in the leather goods market.
Hermès to create a third leather goods factory in the Ardennes, creating 280 jobs by 2027 - 28/04/2023
  • Hermès will build a new leather goods factory in Charleville-Mézières, to be operational in 2027.
  • 260 craftsmen will exercise their skills in these future workshops.
  • The Pôle des maroquineries des Ardennes will employ over 800 craftsmen by 2027.
  • The new Charleville-Mézières leatherworks will be Hermès Maroquinerie Sellerie's twenty-sixth production site in France.
Hermès prepares to open its 23rd leather goods factory near Angoulême - 10/02/2023
  • Hermès recruits and trains in leaps and bounds
  • nine openings since 2010,
  • three new openings planned for 2023

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Hermès International
Degrenne
Bernardaud
Royal Limoges
Haviland
Porcelaines Jacques Pergay

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