This is what his general manager, Domenico Casaretto, In this exclusive interview with Day 1.

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—Cerámica San Lorenzo seeks to become a ceramic manufacturing hub. Is that goal linked to the expansion of your plant in Peru?

Indeed. That was a project that we presented to the board of directors of the Lamosa group in 2022, and which was approved at the end of the same year. That triggered an expansion that leaves us as a ceramic manufacturing hub for markets outside of Peru.

“At this moment we sell 60% of what we manufacture locally and export the rest, but this expansion is accompanied by a technological renewal to manufacture products with greater added value”

—But you already export ceramics, don’t you?

Yes. At this moment we sell 60% of what we manufacture locally and export the rest. But this expansion is accompanied by a technological renewal to manufacture products with greater added value, which will satisfy not only the external market but also the internal one. We maintain that spirit and have continued forward despite the situation.

—Are you investing despite the adverse political and economic context?

In fact, we are close to inaugurating the expansion in the coming days (November 15). But, yes, the decision was made last year, even knowing clearly that the sector was going to decline to more normal levels of demand, after the rebound in 2021 and 2022.

—What led you to make this decision to invest?

Decisions in a group of the magnitude of Lamosa are not only about taking advantage of the situation, but also about looking at the medium and long term. We consider that these 27 years of experience are good foundations that allow us to think, not only about a specific situation of one year, but about what we will be able to achieve in Peru, producing and generating employment for the next 10 to 20 years.

—How is the expansion project going to help you?

This is an investment of nearly US$20 million that will increase our production capacity by 12%. We have three plants in Peru. The project will allow us to serve the internal and external markets, but with innovative formats that are trending in other parts of the world, such as wood-type porcelain tiles and disruptive rectangular products.

Cerámica San Lorenzo is preparing a US$20 million expansion to produce 12% more ceramics and maintain its market share in Peru. (Photo: San Lorenzo)

—Where are those three plants located?

They are all located on Avenida Industrial, in Lurín. That was an important commitment that we developed 11 years ago and that allowed us to be what we are now: an industrial company with impeccable standards from the point of view of productivity, processes, costs, etc. From there we supply Peru, Chile and Ecuador, and we are ad portas to enter the US and some Central American countries.

—Does Lamosa plan to supply ceramics to the US from Peru?

In fact, there is a Lamosa plant in Monterrey (Mexico), which was built exclusively to serve the US market. But this market is very large and Peru’s geographical location is more suitable than the Monterrey plant to supply the west coast of the United States.

—Despite the proximity of Mexico?

For a product from Monterrey to go to the Pacific Ocean, it will require a higher cost of freight or transportation. So, there is an opportunity to supply the North American market, with its particularities. But we can produce any ceramic product.

—What is San Lorenzo’s participation in the ceramic market in Peru?

We estimate that we should have 25%, although there is no information as precise as there may be in mass consumption sectors, because we do not manufacture mass consumption products.

—Will the expansion of Lurín increase that market share?

In a situation like the current one, what we seek is to defend our market share by evolving towards formats in line with trends and consumer needs. If you look at what the Peruvian likes today, it is not the same as what he liked 10 or 20 years ago.

—What is the trend in ceramics now?

Large formats. Size is a trend, and so is the finish. Now the technology used by the group allows achieving maximum realism in a ceramic piece, with textures similar to those of a natural stone, wood or marble. All of this has been a commitment to investment in technology that is associated with innovation.

Jenny Morales, technical manager of San Lorenzo, is the co-creator of the ceramic biocide against COVID-19, an innovation developed in Peru.

Jenny Morales, technical manager of San Lorenzo, is the co-creator of the ceramic biocide against COVID-19, an innovation developed in Peru.

/ JORGE CAPUNAY

—What is the use that Peruvians give to these finishes?

That is an interesting question because ceramics have managed to penetrate uses that were unthinkable ten years ago. For example, a decade ago you would not have thought of ceramic tiles to decorate your living room floor. Today Yes. The ceramic has migrated from the bathroom and kitchen to the living room and dining room. And also towards the garage floors because now the mechanical resistance of the ceramics we manufacture is capable of supporting the weight of a car.

—How much does a family spend on average to decorate their home with ceramics?

We know that there are people who can spend S/20 per square meter on ceramic, and others who can spend S/100 or S/150 per square meter. On average, a family that opens an apartment for the first time buys ceramics for 20 or 25 square meters. We are talking about an investment of S/1,000 to S/1,500 to improve a living room or dining room. Clearly, we know that we must have products for all budgets in a country like Peru, and we have them.

—I understand that they estimate to grow 10% this year, after an advance of 20% in 2022. Does that estimate hold?

2023 has been a different year due to social conflicts, torrential rains and the increase in interest rates to access credit. A good part of the sector is moving through renovations, and that dynamic has been contracted because credit for the purchase of apartments has increased. So, we have had to adjust our projections for 2023.

—Do you have other projects apart from the expansion?

What we have done this year has been to increase our offering of innovative products. Before, 12% of our sales were new products launched during the year and now it is 20%. And we also want to work on improving the consumer experience.

-How?

When a consumer decides to change a bathroom, living room or dining room, they know what they want to do, but not how to do it. So, the role of Cerámica San Lorenzo is not only to provide you with the product, but also the advice so that you can make the best decision. In the end, We do not sell ceramics, we accompany people in their progress because, when a person remodels their house or first floor, what they feel is that their quality of life has improved.



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