There can be no doubt that this year the All China Leather Exhibition was bigger than last year. It occupied more halls than in 2004 and people were still queuing to get in on the afternoon of the first day. According to the organisers, exhibition space was up 20% over last year, which was itself much bigger than the year before.

Of course, no-one can truly know how much business is actually done at a show, but the fair was very well attended and most stands attracted a good number of visitors. It gave every impression of being a well-run and popular show.

However, according to Don Ohsman of, US hide traders were reporting a lack of real interest from Chinese tanners but then they were hoping for prices which had been around for some months rather than actual levels attracted in the run-up to the fair.

Despite the tough trading conditions which have seen most exhibitions contract in the past year, the ACLE is definitely still on the up. Shanghai is a fast-paced and exciting city and one of the magic ingredients for a successful show has always been an attractive location. Add China to the mix as the major influence in the tanning industry of today, and you have a successful show.

According to John Gorman, Australia sent their largest contingent ever to the show with 17 exhibitors covering all the major hide, skins and leather companies. He said there was a lot of interest in goat and kangaroo, medium interest for hides but little interest in sheepskins currently. However, expectations are that the market will firm up later in the year when the Russians confirm their purchases from China.

In addition to the actual exhibition there was a full programme of meetings and seminars in the adjoining meeting rooms, from fashion trends, through an overview of focus country India to more technical subjects such as advances in degreasing technology by Dean Didato of Buckman Laboratories, USA – tough on grease, easy on the environment – and formaldehyde in leathergoods – remedies and solutions – by E Stoppa, FGL, Italy.

USHSLA, the United States Hide, Skin & Leather Association introduced their recently published Standards governing the export of North American Cattle Hides to the audience. This sets out clearly general conditions (a written contract, average weight, selection and inspection requirements), standards for delivery and rules governing receiving and inspection of hides at final destination.

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 the concurrent 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, Türkiye, and India were among other countries whose representation increased by between 20 – 50%.’

A total of 14,382 buyers visited the fairs. Of these, 11,323 came from mainland China, 589 from Hong Kong and Macau, and 341 from Taiwan. Overseas visitors totalled 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 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.

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 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.

There was a good level of exhibitor satisfaction with the show: ‘The show was terrific. We are pleased with both the visitor flow and the visitor quality’ – Julia Stepanova, sales manager, Novochrom Ltd, Russia.