Thibaut has a dream that one day all memorials will once again be made in the UK…

…and that this, the T658 multi-function profiling centre, and other Thibaut machines will be making them.

Stéphane Couteaud, the sales manager for Thibaut whose area includes the UK and Ireland, admits he is a dreamer. But he says his dream of Europe once again being a major manufacturer of its own memorials is starting to come true.

Helping it on its way is Thibaut’s flagship T658 profiling. It was introduced last year by Thibaut, the French machinery manufacturer, specifically to enable European stone companies to make memorials that can compete on price with the Far Eastern memorials that dominate the market. 

Competing with markets that have lower costs requires major improvements in productivity – and that is what Thibaut offers in the T658. You push the green button and walk away. When you return you have finished memorials.

This profiling centre can polish all four sides of a stone in one operation, even when one of the sides is an ogee top or a bullnose on a 350mm thick slab.

Stéphane says the level of interest in the 658 has been even higher than expected on mainland Europe. None have come to the UK or Ireland yet, but people were excited by the development when Thibaut explained it at the NAMM Tradex memorial show in Warwickshire last year.

Stéphane is encouraged by a big increase in sales of spare parts in the British Isles, indicating machines that had been mothballed are coming back into production, especially the ubiquitous T108 polisher-workcentre in its various forms from manual to automatic. It remains a popular choice for all stone processors, not just memorial masons.

The memorial sector did well last year, as you will see in the following pages of this issue of NSS. Wholesalers are reporting an increase in interest in memorials that are a little more interesting than the standard black ogee, which bodes well for a greater level of value added in the home market.

Stéphane likes the idea of manufacture in the home market. It reverses the trend of exporting jobs and profits, combats concerns about child and slave labour in the supply chains from India and China (bonded labour in India and enforced penal labour in China) and if the stone is also local there will be no worries about it having been artificially coloured.

Yes, Stéphane Couteaud might be a dreamer but he wants to share that dream with stone processors in the UK and will be back at both the Natural Stone Show at ExCeL and Tradex 2017 next year. But don’’t wait until then. You can contact him now at [email protected] / 0033 6271 98184.

The UK market for memorials is small compared with most European countries, both in the number of units sold and the size and intricacy of the stones. It is unlikely that any time soon the bereaved will make a major shift away from black granite, which can be imported as semi-finished memorials from India and China at a fraction of the price of making them in the UK. Nevertheless, some of the memorial wholesalers have liked the idea of the T658.