Exciting everyday | by Roberta Chionne
This is the motto of Oz Ceramica, founded in Jerusalem in 1998 by Shlomi Oz and Avi Shitrit. “We want our customers to feel a sense of excitement every time they enter their homes, offices or any other location where our materials have been supplied. Essentially, we make dreams come true!” said Avi Shitrit, who is also the company’s CEO. Oz Ceramica, which employs 300 people and has branches in 11 cities all over Israel, began importing large quantities of ceramic tiles, taps and sanitaryware from Italy and worldwide in 2001 and now imports 50% of its ceramic tiles from Italy.
Mr. Shitrit, could you give us an overview of Oz Ceramica?
When Shlomi Oz and I founded the company in Jerusalem in 1998, we initially sold construction materials but also had a small ceramic tile department. From 2001 onwards we began importing large quantities of ceramic tiles, taps and sanitaryware from Italy and worldwide. Our focus is on selling high-quality products for all sectors and at a variety of price points, as well as having a very large stock to allow for immediate delivery to all customers. Currently, 50% of our ceramic tile imports come from Italy, 30% from Spain and 20% from the rest of the world.
Over the years you have built up an extensive network of locations throughout Israel.
That’s right, our company currently has 10 branches and 1 outlet with 40,000 square metres of logistics warehouses. After setting up the company in Jerusalem in 1998, we opened a second branch in Modi’in in 2008, then two others in Rishon Letzion in 2013 and Petach Tikvah in 2016 followed by a further two branches in Beer Sheva and Rechovot in 2018. In 2022 we opened another two showrooms in Ashkelon and the largest concept showroom in Bnei Brak (lechi). We are building another showroom that has almost reached the end of the construction stage.
Who are your customers and what are the intended uses of the ceramic tiles you distribute?
Oz Ceramica distributes its products for private and public construction sites, as well as for hospitals and office buildings all over Israel. Each year, our products are used in about 20,000 housing units.
What is the current economic situation in the Israeli construction industry?
The State of Israel is a young and rapidly developing country and Oz Ceramica is tapping into a very large portion of the construction sector growth. The industry’s economic situation is good but unfortunately we are expecting to see slower growth due to the rising mortgage interest rates in Israel.
What are the main ceramic tile trends in interior design projects in Israel?
The main trends in Israel are for large size tiles, including very thin products. In addition, wood-effect and in more recent years natural wood tiles have also become very popular.
Why choose Italian ceramic tiles?
There are many reasons for choosing Italian ceramic tiles. Italy has always dictated global fashion trends, both in ceramics and in other product sectors. The Italians are the best in the world at developing and designing models and at setting future industry trends for the years to come. The quality of Italian goods is also considered to be amongst the best in the world.
How could the distribution system in your country be improved?
The Israeli market has a very high purchasing power but it seems to me that Italian products are always more expensive than those of other major producer countries such as Spain. If Italian manufacturers were able to match the prices of other countries like Spain, the demand for Italian goods in the Israeli market would be much higher.