Busy show – but was there business?

18 November 2009

Whereas African regional fairs attract hundreds of visitors, Fimec attracted numbers touching the higher thousands, but all exhibitors agreed that the number of visitors was significantly less than in the previous edition in 2008. The companies visiting were estimated to be the same but the individual numbers that came in earlier years were reduced in order to save travel costs. It was bustling on both floor levels in the component sector and in the tannery and machine sectors.
The high level of interest was, however, not transformed into orders or contracts. The overall impression was that business was still very difficult and orders were few. There were no surprise orders, only those that would have materialised anyway without the fair. But the general opinion was that optimism was starting to surface and Brazilian tanners think that they are going to seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.
The feeling was that the crisis is bottoming out or has bottomed out. The question now is how long it will take to see an upward trend develop. That could be a matter of few months according to the real optimists to a year or more for the more cautious commentators. The important thing is that the general pessimism seems to be transforming slowly to confidence and a brighter future.
Predominantly synthetics were on display in spite of the fact that raw hide prices in Brazil are today around 0.50 Reais per kilo ($0.22), against 2.50 Reais ($1.14) just 18 months ago, with huge stocks still unsold. The finished leathers, however, did not follow this sharp reduction in price. Where hides and skins reduced by 60% finished leather is only 20% cheaper. Price is not considered a predominant factor for the reduced sales, whereas the drop in consumption is the core of the reduced production.
The sales of leather that were made at the fair were for domestic trades. Foreign buyers were practically absent or those that were at the fair did not buy. Machinery manufacturers from home and abroad found tanners definitely interested in new machines but the tanners said that they needed to see the market pick-up again before they would make any decision for purchases beyond window shopping.
Where chemical manufacturers and suppliers are reducing their appearance in other fairs, they were present in large numbers at Fimec. Theirs may be more an act of regional presence and entertainment to their buyers rather than selling.
A number of foreign operators were invited, all expenses paid, to attend a symposium organized by Softex, the association of software producers in Brazil sponsored by the Brazilian government. Softex is a non-profit association representing some 1,300 software developing companies all over Brazil.
Although most presentations were in Portuguese which not everybody understood, some very interesting concepts have been brought to the attention of those present. The presented software for a variety of applications of all facets of the leather and leather related industry concerned ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and SCM (Supply Chain Management), concepts the industry will not be able to do without, even if it does not want to know that yet.
Swiss based machinery and automation makers, Hüni and Systemhaus, took the opportunity of the event to train several of their foreign representatives in the finer details of Hüni Process Control and Automation as well as the latest version of the Antara tannery management system and to give live demonstrations at tanneries around Novo Hamburgo who use these
systems.
In conclusion the fair was considered a success and did neither exceed nor lower expectations in the current climate.



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