Home » 7 companies owned by South African tycoon Giovanni Ravazzotti

7 companies owned by South African tycoon Giovanni Ravazzotti

Unveiling the legacy of Giovanni Ravazzotti: A South African tycoon's trailblazing journey in business

by Feyisayo Ajayi
Giovanni Ravazzotti

Giovanni Ravazzotti, a South African tycoon, stands tall among the nation’s business elite. Far from a product of privilege, his ascent is rooted in relentless hard work, a hunger for knowledge, and an indomitable entrepreneurial spirit.

As the founder and visionary force behind Italtile, South Africa’s foremost franchisor, retailer, and manufacturer of tiles and bathroom ware, Ravazzotti has been instrumental in propelling the company to great heights. Italtile, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange since 1992, now serves as a benchmark for gauging consumer spending in the South African market.

Arriving in Johannesburg from Italy in 1969, Ravazzotti foresaw the growing demand for affordable tiles and ceramics in the changing urban landscape. This foresight led to the establishment of Italtile, initially focused on importing and retailing these essential products.

Adapting swiftly to the 1976 Soweto uprising and anticipating potential trade sanctions, Ravazzotti shifted gears, initiating local manufacturing of ceramic tiles. By 1992, both Italtile and its manufacturing arm, Ceramic Industries, found success on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Despite substantial business accomplishments, Ravazzotti maintains a low profile, particularly since the tragic loss of his son and successor, Gian-Paolo Ravazzotti, in a 2011 plane crash. Holding dual citizenship in South Africa and Italy, he remains closely connected to both nations.

As the chairman of Italtile and a member of various boards, including chairing the Italian South African Chamber of Trade and Industries, Ravazzotti underscores his commitment to fostering bilateral relationships. In 2009, he received the honor of Cavaliere in the Order Al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.

Retiring in 2014 and passing the CEO reins to Nick Booth who left the group in 2017, Ravazzotti retained a significant 33.88 percent stake in Italtile, amounting to 447,746,694 shares valued at R4.84 billion ($262.12 million).

Billionaires.Africa has identified and cataloged various companies and holdings linked to Ravazzotti . Here are five companies where he holds direct or indirect ownership:

1. Italtile Limited

Established in 1969 by Ravazzotti, Italtile Limited has become a powerhouse in the franchising, retail, and manufacturing sectors. Specializing in tiles, bathroom ware, and related merchandise, Italtile operates nationally under various retail brands, including Italtile Retail, CTM, TopT, and U-Light. Ravazzotti commands a substantial 33.88 percent ownership through Rallen Proprietary Limited.

2. Pegasus factory
Located in Vereeniging, South Africa, the Pegasus Factory is one of five tile factories owned by Italtile. Specializing in Red body, press floor tiles, it utilizes cutting-edge technology with a production capacity of 50,000 square meters of tiles per day. With a focus on emerging and sub-Saharan African markets, the Pegasus Factory plays a vital role in import replacement for the local South African market.

3. U-Light
Launched in 2018, U-Light is an innovative venture by the Italtile Group comprising eight stores. It focuses on providing quality fashionable residential lighting with an additional industrial component, enhancing the overall shopping experience for customers seeking to beautify their homes.

4. TopT 

As a leading home finishing supplier and South Africa’s online tile retailer, TopT holds an 80 percent controlling interest by the Italtile group. With 90 stores across nine South African provinces and recent expansion into Botswana, TopT is positioned for sustained growth, contributing significantly to the group’s success.

5. Rallen Proprietary Limited
Rallen Proprietary Limited serves as a holding company for Ravazzotti’s various ventures beyond Italtile, potentially encompassing a diverse array of businesses and investments.

6. Ceramic Tile Market (CTM)
Established in 1983 and operating as a division of Italtile Limited Group, CTM is South Africa’s largest specialized retailer for tiles and bathroom products. With 87 stores across the country, CTM revolutionized tile retailing by democratizing high-style and design accessibility for everyday South African consumers. It has expanded its offerings to include a comprehensive range of home improvement products.

7. Ceramic Industries Ltd 

Founded in 1976, Ceramic Industries Ltd., part of the Ceramic Industries Group, has grown into a leader in the design and manufacture of ceramic tiles and bathroomware. The group comprises multiple factories in South Africa and Australia, producing a diverse range of pressed and extruded tiles. With a global footprint that extends to Australia, the group continues to expand its presence and cater to a wide range of preferences and requirements.

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