Publication: Brick and Clay Record
Chicago, IL, United States
THE GERMAN PORCELAIN INDUSTRY
By Special Foreign Correspondent
All German porcelain factories sold their production for months ahead at the Leipzig exhibition this spring, so that even the orders received during the time of the Genoa Conference and the bankers' meeting in Paris, when the German mark seemed to attain a certain stability, had no effect on employment in the porcelain industry. In view of the possible stabilization of the German exchange domestic and foreign customers kept aloof at that time. Now with the heavy decline in the mark the works are again crowded with orders which will keep them busy for the present year. The works are unable to meet the demand and some firms are enlarging their plants. Production is retarded thru the irregular and insufficient supply of fuel and kaolin and the plants cannot be operated to the full extent of their capacity. Bohemian coal and Austrian clay have been imported for some time to make up for the deficiency, and British coal has also been used lately to a great extent to keep up production. There are numerous complaints by the trade that the supply of porcelain to the home market is insufficient. The high export surcharge is of course a great inducement to sell abroad. Manufacturers believe that if foreign orders should slacken for some reason, the unabated domestic demand will ensure sufficient employment for some time.
Output Increased In Recent Years
German production has increased during the last few years, and the 92 plants, which were merged into the "Association of German China Ware Manufacturers, Ltd.," of Berlin, had an output in 1920 of 48,151.3 metric tons. During 1920 the supply of coal, lignite and briquettes amounted to 41.30 and 63.7 per cent, of actual requirements; during 1921 the percentage was 48.92, 42.6 and 80.4 per cent, respectively. The shortage was partially made up by using wood. The average number of employes amounted to 13,238 men and 12,242 women wage earners, and 2,283 salaried employes in 1920. Last year the respective figures were 13,929, 13,329 and 2,369. Prices for porcelain have been increased continually. In April, 1920, domestic prices of white porcelain were 15 times basic prices and the cost of every kilo of material amounted to 0.51 mark. The wage for molders and turners came to 0.61 mark per kilo and the baking to 122.30 marks per one cubic meter (about 94 marks per cubic yard). In December, 1921, the respective cost amounted to 2.01 marks, 1.71 marks and 3.20 marks, which increased to 2.54. 1.95 and 3.77 marks in January, 1922. The sale prices of china ware were 30 times basic prices at the beginning of 1922 and have since gone up by about 100 per cent. In pre-war days about 60 per cent, of the German production went abroad, while only 28.4 per cent, was exported in 1920. The United States of America was the best customer of German china prior to the war. In 1912, for instance, 41.9 per cent, of the entire American imports came from Germany. This percentage had decreased to 4 per cent, in 1920 and was 27.1 again in 1921. Japan is the strongest rival of German china in the world market; she supplied for instance 44.48 per cent., Czecho-Slovakia 6.8 and France 12.29 per cent, of the china imports of the United States in 1921. German export increased very little during the six months from October. 1921, to May, 1922.
Porcelain Manufacturers Forming Combines
There is practically no export to Russia yet. It is reported that it is getting its supply from British firms, who have also made trade agreements with the Russians and are financing the erection of a factory there, provided the raw material is imported from Great Britain. It is argued in Berlin that the Germans may be too late, if they do not pay more attention to the Russian chinaware market. The general trend in German industry to form combines is also manifesting itself in the porcelain line. Plans for new mergers are gradually maturing and much greater speed in completing the consolidations may be expected. They will especially affect the firms producing household porcelain. The porcelain factory Fraureuth, A. G., increased its turnover in 1921 by 150 per cent, compared to the previous year. The dividend for 1921 was 35 per cent, and an additional bonus of 25 per cent, was paid. An extension of the plant by 40 per cent, will be completed shortly. The porcelain factory of J. Schachtel, A. G., in Silesia, paid a dividend of 24 per cent, on a capital which has recently been increased from two and a half to six million marks. The firm produces technical and household porcelain. The managers report that the stock of orders would warrant an extension of the plant. On account of the uncertain economic position of Germany they thought it advisable to combine with some other firms before enlarging. The company joined the Strupp concern, which is a combine of a number of porcelain factories. The Porcelain Factories of Kahla and H. Schomburg and Sons. A. G., have made a contract to form an Interessengemeinschaft (joint interests) for 99 years.
Domestic Market Receiving Attention
Kahla is one of the oldest German firms producing china, especially for export; it may need a backing of domestic orders, if export troubles ensue. Schomburg is especially working for the domestic market in technical porcelain and is starting a new department for chinaware at the Schwandorf works. Thru the exchange of scientific and technical experience they expect to reduce their overhead charges and probably the price of their product. Both companies are making porcelain for the electrical industry and have plants at Kahla, Hermsdorf, Freiberg. Zwickau, Margarethenhutte, Rosslau, Wiesau. Pirkensee, Schwarzenfcld and Schwandorf. The firm of Schomburg increased its capital from 8 to 25 million marks and Kahla from 20 to 35 million. Kahla paid a dividend of 35 per cent, and Schomburg 40 per cent. The production of porcelain for the electrical industry is entailing large laboratory costs and the consolidation of the porcelain plants of the A. E. G. (General Electrical Co.) and the Actien Gesellschaft Rosenthal, some time ago was, to a certain extent, prompted by the desire to reduce experimental charges. The Volkstedter Porcelain Works A. G. is another concern comprising works in Volkstedt, Unterweissbach and Passau. The firm also acquired the Porcelain and Favence Factory R. Heinz in Neuhaus and the Grand-Ducal Keramic Manufacture in Darmstadt. The capital of the company is seven and a half million marks, which is being increased by another one million marks to provide funds for the acquisition of the Electro Porcelain Factory of S. Bergmann, Jr., & Co., in N'euhaus. The profits amounted to 9.15 million marks and a dividend of 24 per cent, is being paid. The export business of the firm is reported to have increased a little lately, but is difficult on account of the foreign competition.