At the start of the year, the first of the so called baby boomers, those born in the post war years after 1946, will turn 60 years old. By the end of 2006 in the Leather Merchants & Wholesalers industry, 30% of directors, or one in five will be aged over 60.

A new study by industry analysts Plimsoll Publishing Ltd has looked at the impact these ageing directors might have on the financial performance and future direction of the UK’s Top 165 Leather Merchants & Wholesalers companies.

Collectively the UK Top 165 Leather Merchants & Wholesalers companies are led by only 322 directors. They vary in age from the youngest at 27, to the oldest aged 88. Yet overall they are ageing; over 30% of them will be aged over 60 by the end of the year. Over the next five years, if they stay, 48% of them will have turned 60.

Directors age – number of directors – % of population

Under 30 – 3 – 1%

31 to 35 – 13 – 4%

36 to 40 – 30 – 9%

41 to 45 – 38 – 12%

46 to 50 – 46 – 14%

51 to 55 – 37 – 11%

56 to 60 – 57 – 18%

61 to 65 – 51 – 16%

65 and over – 46 – 14%

Total – 322 – 100%

So is the market as appealing as it was ten years ago? Delving into the current financial position of the 165 companies studied, the analysis uncovers many reasons to leave the industry. 27% of the companies are in clear financial difficulties and 20% of companies failed to make any profit at all last year.

So how many of the 322 directors are ready for the stresses of the next five years? Some don’t, it seems, have a choice. David Pattison, senior analyst maintains: ‘It’s debatable how many can afford to retire. If they are thinking of selling up then the business needs to command a good price if it’s going to finance the winters in the Caribbean and not all believe it or not, are ready for this anyway.’

For these reasons, the analysis points to strong evidence that directors are hanging on well into retirement. The myth that your enthusiasm and motivation fails with age is completely unfounded as 52 companies ran by directors over 60 increased both sales and profits in the last year.

So can the industry offer the next generation of directors an exciting future?

Average directors’ salary last year was £41,182

This compares with the UK average of £67,500 per year

Average directors’ fees increased by 57% last year

Top earners can see this salary rise to over £193,000 per year

The typical time in office is now over ten years

This compares with the UK average of just over five years

For any budding Leather Merchants & Wholesalers executive although, why not consider a career in the Record Industry where salaries can top £272,000?