Exhibitors and visitors alike delivered a powerfully upbeat verdict from the recent 2005 All China Leather Exhibition (ACLE), the China International Footwear Fair (CIFF) and Moda Shanghai, cementing their position as leading trade fairs China. The ‘Three in One’ format exhibition ran from September 7-9, at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre in Pudong.

The success of any trade fair is judged, ultimately, on the number of exhibitors who believe it worth the time and expense of participating. By this criteria both events continued on the upward trend established since their inception, with a total 857 exhibitors for ACLE and 231 for CIFF and Moda Shanghai combined. An increase of 182 exhibiting companies over 2004 brought the fairs’ combined total participants to 1,088 companies from 36 countries and regions. Of these, 90 companies were first-time exhibitors and six countries and regions were represented for the first time. ACLE held 19 group pavilions, and CIFF held three, with a 20% increase in floor space.

‘We are delighted with the growth of the shows’, said Ms Perrine Ardouin, senior event manager of Asia Pacific Leather Fair Ltd, which co-organises the events with the China Leather Industry Association. ‘It was a pleasure to welcome new exhibiting countries such as Belgium, Indonesia and Iran. Equally pleasing was the growth in support from our long-established exhibitors such as Italy, which increased its representation from 50 companies to 80. Industry leaders such as France, Spain, Turkey, and India were among other countries whose representation increased by between 20 – 50%.’

A total of 14,382 buyers visited the fairs, an impressive number. Of these, 11,323 came from mainland China, 589 from Hong Kong and Macau, and 341 from Taiwan. Overseas visitors totaled 2,129. ‘This is an excellent result’, said Ardouin. ‘The fairs play a vital role as catalysts by promoting trade between China and international partners. Significant to note is that a number of overseas visitors were on reconnaissance trips, indicating that they would return in 2006 as exhibitors.’

For the first time in its eight-year history, ACLE/CIFF selected a ‘Focus Country’ for 2005. India as this year’s Focus Country was an inspired choice and was warmly received by exhibitors and buyers. After China, India has a large and established leather industry and is the world’s second largest footwear manufacturer. Forty one Indian exhibitors hosted two pavilions and, through a series of seminars, highlighted investment opportunities in the Indian leather industry.

ACLE’s increasing international profile was evident in exhibitor representation from Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. The event also underlined its role as a facilitator for China’s leather industry. At ACLE 2005, China emphasised its commitment to environmentally-friendly leather making, with an Eco-leather sector, an important plank in its ‘Genuine Leather Logo’ platform.

Certain sectors of ACLE are seeing significant growth. This year the number of companies in the leather machinery zone doubled, to 32. Notable for this sector was the first time participation of the Association of Italian Manufacturers of Footwear, Leather goods and Tanning Machinery (ASSOMAC).

The number of synthetic and natural materials exhibitors increased by 71%, and the number of raw materials – hides, skins and semi-finished leather – and chemicals exhibitors increased by 16%.

ACLE 2005 provided an opportunity to gain valuable industry insights from renowned international experts, such as Dupont Wilmington USA, ASSOMAC, US Hide Skin and Leather Association, and SATRA. A panel of key figures in the Italian leather industry generously shared detailed information on technological developments.

Among the 188 exhibitors from the Chinese mainland were some of China’s most important fashion footwear manufacturers. CIFF is their chosen event through which to expand the market for their brands, which this year included Senda, Kangnai, Aokang, Hongqingting, Belle, and Fuguiniao. Fashion parades by some of these brands helped draw buyers’ attention.

Chinese brands were joined by some of Portugal’s finest names. The Portuguese reputation for quality was upheld by brands such as Fly London, Coxx, Evereste, Hard Hearted Harlot, Joia, MP Feeling, Penha and Tatuaggi. These brands lead the market in Europe for casual, trendy and fashionable footwear.

Japan stood out in 2005 as its pavilion featured some renowned shoemakers, hailing from Tokyo and, for the first time, Osaka. Racine, Ace Corporation, Haruta Shoe MFG, Suezaki Seika, and Sunny Side Shoes all participated.

India was also in the spotlight at Moda Shanghai, with its separate pavilion for handbags and leathergoods.

‘ACLE is becoming increasingly international. The first two days were exceptionally brisk. The Chinese leather and shoe industry is demanding more high quality leathers as well as more sophisticated chemicals to survive in a highly competitive market. The fair was professionally organized, as usual.’ – Reinhard Schneider, director, German Leather Federation and organiser of the German pavilion

‘The fair has helped us boost our image as a CAD-CAM provider to the leather industry’ – Steven Tang, regional vice president, Far East, Gerber Scientific International Ltd, USA

‘It is a very good fair. ACLE offered us an opportunity to expand our market share and we received a total of US$500,000 worth of orders this time’ – Malcolm Drew, general manager, Castricum Brothers Export Pty Ltd, Australia

‘The show was terrific. We are pleased with both the visitor flow and the visitor quality’ – Julia Stepanova, sales manager, Novochrom Ltd, Russia

‘I have attended the show four times now and I find it excellent, especially in terms of exhibitors’ quality and quantity. I contacted new partners from Hong Kong and Taiwan. The fair fulfilled my needs and I placed orders successfully’ – Lu Songgen, general manager, Tongxiang Xuesong Fur & Leather Co Ltd, China

‘This is my third visit to CIFF and I will definitely come again next year’ Liang Liping, Shanghai Zhaoan Development Co Ltd, China

‘Overall, it was ‘an’ excellent fair’ – Wang Zhongbao, Fujian Zhonghao Leather Company, China