This year’s Lineapelle, held in Bologna, Italy, from November 6-8, 2001, was quieter than usual. Visitor numbers peaked on the middle day, Wednesday, although many exhibitors noted that visitors from north America, Korea and Japan were missing. The majority of visitors from south America were from Brazil.

Despite the recession in the US and potentially in Europe, and the ongoing war against terrorism, exhibitors’ reactions to the fair were mixed. Some admitted that business was difficult, while others said that interest at the fair had been better than expected. Whether this is just a case of putting on a brave face remains to be seen.

Many tanners have been hit by cancellations from the US and a lack of new orders from the US and Canada, while the situation in Europe is not really that much better. Upholstery and automotive leathers were the first to be hit, but seem now to have been joined by lacklustre shoe orders. Even the garment sector seemed to be lacking in enthusiasm. Prices on most lines and origins were down on the first half of this year, some even up to 40% or more.

The general impression seems to be that the industry has not yet reached the bottom. Experts are predicting that the next 3-6 months will see several price readjustments, and reduced production/kills in several categories, although this will at least help prevent prices falling too rapidly.

First time exhibitors L H Nichols, UK slink suppliers, said that while the quantity of visitors was disappointing the quality was good and they had been able to meet new customers as well as existing ones.

Colombian tanners Americana de Curtidos Ltda were also pleased by welcoming new contacts as well as valued customers. They are benefiting increasingly from the withdrawal from the markets of former big names who are either closing or relocating to Asia. They are particularly proud of the fact that they recently achieved ISO 1400 accreditation.

Another first time exhibitor was the famous footwear company Ecco but they were showing as tanners. The company plan to process 90% of their own leather in the future as well as selling 25% of their tannery output to other manufacturers.

Panos Mytaros, managing director of Ecco Tannery Holland, added that the company do not want to shut themselves off to the rest of the world and are currently tanning their own leather in Portugal, Indonesia and Thailand. The company also have a new R&D facility in Holland which will be ready in January 2002.

A Lineapelle report will appear next month