VitrA Karo

VitrA Tiles will be a major player in Europe with its new production plant

Turkey’s leading exporter of ceramic tiles, VitrA Tiles finalized an investment in a new plant that will produce large-format porcelain tiles in Bozüyük. While accelerating its growth in the European market, VitrA Tiles’ new plant will also make a major contribution to sustainability efforts by reducing energy consumption and wastage. Eczacıbaşı Holding Chairperson Bülent Eczacıbaşı said: “We are continuing our investments in our 80th year. Our Group’s investments will exceed 250 million euros this year.” 

Celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, the Eczacıbaşı Group continues to invest in building products, its largest line of business, and export-oriented ventures that contribute to Turkey’s economy. VitrA Tiles, Turkey’s leading exporter of ceramic tiles, held an opening ceremony for its newly completed production plant in Bilecik, Bozüyük. Marking the beginning of operations in the new plant, the ceremony was held on Friday, May 13, at VitrA’s production site in Bozüyük and was attended by the Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Dönmez, Eczacıbaşı Holding Chairperson Bülent Eczacıbaşı, Eczacıbaşı Holding Vice Chairperson Faruk Eczacıbaşı, Eczacıbaşı Group CEO Atalay Gümrah, Vitra Tiles CEO Hasan Pehlivan, Eczacıbaşı Group employees and other guests.  

With the addition of this new production plant, VitrA Tiles has expanded its production capacity to 3.5 million square meters of large-format tiles while reinforcing its contribution to sustainability by increasing energy efficiency and preventing wastage. This export-oriented production plant also implements data-based production management through extensive Industry 4.0 applications, which will expedite VitrA Tiles’ growth in the European market.  This year, VitrA Tiles also aims to finalize an investment of 25.5 million euros in efficiency and modernization. 

Investing 250 million euros in 2022 

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Eczacıbaşı Holding Chairperson  Bülent Eczacıbaşı highlighted the Group’s commitment to investing in all its business lines with conviction and consistency to enhance the Group’s competitive power in its 80th year: “The Eczacıbaşı Group has been a flag-bearer of modern, high-quality and healthy living for the last 80 years. Today, our 46 companies and 39 production plants are active in over 120 international markets. During our journey of 80 years, we first played a major role in Turkey’s industrialization story, then expanded the reach of our brands beyond Turkey’s borders to become an international player with 12 thousand employees and production operations on three continents. To enhance our competitive power in global markets, we are continuing our investments across all our business lines. For 2022, we have planned a total investment of 250 million euros. VitrA Tiles’ new production plant, which is part of this investment program, is becoming operational today. And before long, we will finalize an investment in a fifth operation in Bozüyük focused on ceramic sanitaryware production.” 

Bülent Eczacıbaşı pointed out that building products constituted the Eczacıbaşı Group’s largest line of business and said: “We are realizing over 50 percent of our country’s total exports of ceramic sanitaryware. We are the leading exporter of ceramic tiles to the EU. We possess a wide array of competencies to design all products used in a typical bathroom. With our tile products, we are transferring these competencies to other areas outside the bathroom. The launch of our new plant at VitrA Tiles represents the expansion of our capacity even further.”

Increase in capacity and employment 

The new plant increases VitrA Tiles’ production capacity at the Bozüyük site from 22 to 25.5 million square meters and its total capacity, including operations abroad, to 30 million square meters. The new plant has created 83 new jobs, raising the total number of VitrA Tiles employees at the Bozüyük site to 1080. 

VitrA Tiles is Turkey’s leading company in the premium and luxury wall and floor covering segments with its VitrA and Villeroy & Boch brands. Its new production plant will produce large-format tiles, the fastest-growing tile segment in Europe. With this investment, VitrA Tiles aims to enhance its ability to create inspirational modern designs, increase its energy efficiency, and reduce wastage. 
Artificial Intelligence helps prevent wastage 

VitrA Tiles CEO Hasan Pehlivan said: “With this new plant, we are expanding our competency and capacity in large-format porcelain tile production, a fast-growing category of our target markets in Europe. However, we are not only aiming for larger sized tiles. As a result of this investment, we will be able to manufacture products that feel like natural stone or marble on the surface and to use digital technologies to achieve more realistic applications of our designs. In short, we will have a stronger voice in terms of design. Sustainability is also very important to us. The energy efficiency of the production process in our new production line is record-breaking: its energy consumption is 15 percent lower than our existing production lines. Furthermore, we are getting a strong handle on production waste, also known as wastage. Using the data flow obtained through digital sensors and artificial intelligence algorithms, we are able to minimize the number of products with manufacturing defects. This way, we have been able to lower the average level of production waste from 8 percent to 4.5 percent and now 3.5 percent, thanks to solutions we developed in collaboration with the Eczacıbaşı Group’s artificial intelligence and data analysis department.  We are continuing to work towards an even lower ratio. Our plan is to extend the use of Industry 4.0- type applications to all our production lines.”  

The entire site will contribute to sustainability 

Besides the new production plant, VitrA Tiles has invested in innovation, efficiency and modernization at the Bozüyük site. In line with its sutainability goals, VitrA Tiles has used its own innovative processes to improve the energy efficiency of existing kilns by 4 percent. Now, the first two kilns installed on site will be removed from the production process and renewed with the most efficient technology, which will further improve VitrA Tiles’s sustainability performance. 

Focusing its attention on green energy to reduce its carbon footprint, VitrA Tiles has obtained a license to install solar panels on the roof of the new plant. With this new installment, set for completion in autumn, the company will convert 7 percent of its energy consumption to green energy. 

“Our ceramics sector is a source of pride.” 

Eczacıbaşı Group CEO Atalay Gümrah:  “Turkey’s ceramics sector, both in ceramic tiles and ceramic sanitaryware, places in the top tier worldwide.  Despite Covid, Turkey’s ceramics sector grew by 25 percent while the global ceramcs sector grew by 1.6 percent. Turkey now ranks 7th in the world market for ceramic tiles, which has a total output of 16 billion square meters. In Europe, Turkey is among the top three countries in terms of its capacity and market power, handling 4.8 percent of the world’s ceramic tile trade. Two other distinguishing qualities of our sector is the high ratio of domestic added value, which exceeds 80 percent, and our historically proven proficiency in ceramic production. In light of our remarkable infrastructure and advancements in ceramics technology over the last 40 years, it is safe to say that our country is on a sure path toward global leadership in this field. However, to ensure the continued progress of our ceramics sector at the desired pace, it is of prime importance that we safeguard the sustainability of our natural resources, secure our energy resources, strengthen our logistical infrastructure and ensure the prompt configuration of our roadmap regarding the Green Deal.” 

Products sold in 75 countries 

VitrA Tiles, Turkey's leading exporter of ceramic tiles to the EU, began production in Tuzla, Istanbul, in 1991 and in Bozüyük, Bilecik, in 1992. With the support of production plants in Russia and Germany, VitrA Tiles sells its products in 75 countries around the world, with Turkey and Germany being its top two markets. 

International sales account for more than 80 percent of VitrA Tiles’s total sales. VitrA Tiles was the first Turkish tile producer to receive the European Union's eco-label; it also has the Turkish Standards Institute's Double Star certification. 
The waste heat recovery project developed by VitrA Tiles for its production plants was included in the Best Cases section of Turkey's National Report for the UN "Rio+20" Sustainable Development Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. The recovery system reuses waste heat from the kiln stacks in the spray-drying processes, resulting in natural gas savings and a reduction of CO2 emissions.