All sectors of the global leather industry were again represented at the annual Asia Pacific Leather Fair (APLF) April 6-9, Hong Kong, with notable increases in trade visitors from many countries, particularly in Asia, Eastern Europe and South America.

For APLF – Materials, Manufacturing and Technology, there were appreciably more visitors from China, India. Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Argentina, Columbia, Venezula, Uruguay and USA. For Fashion Access, more visitors came from the Netherlands, Greece, Australia, Malaysia, Egypt, Israel, South Africa and Colombia. According to APLF Ltd, the total number of visitors was 44,817, of which more than 27,390 visited MMT while 17,425 visited FA. (Figures to be audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers)

The general consensus was that business is moving in the right direction again, powered by China’s continued industrial growth and a general revival in the Asian economy, fuelling renewed consumer spending. MMT exhibitor, Parvez Ahmad Ansari, Bharat Tanning Industries, India, spoke for many with his comment: ‘This is the best fair we ever participate at. It is better than any European exhibition. We had good business and must come again next year.’ On the buying side, Yasunori Tanaka, CEO & president, The Naigai Corporation, Japan, said: ‘As a glove manufacturer, it is not easy to find suitable leathers for my production. But here at APLF I met a new supplier of deerskin from the US and placed orders for finished leather.’

The international reach of Fashion Access as a one-stop sourcing event for leather and other products was well demonstrated by exhibitor Ms Sally Tsang, Brosis (HK) Ltd: ‘This was our first time at APLF but we received handbag orders from Italy, Japan, Israel and Taiwan. We will come again in October and next March.’

This was confirmed by buyer G Hausmann, of Hausmann Leder Papier Spiel, of Austria. ‘We used to purchase our leathergoods supplies through agents in Europe but we are now come to Hong Kong to source direct. This was our first visit to APLF and we found a comprehensive range of products and suppliers. It is a one-stop shop for all price ranges, just right for our 19 shops in Austria.’ Didier Leleu, Dimu Desings Sdn Bhd, men’s footwear retailer, of Malaysia, said: ‘We found high quality men’s footwear in the Top Style Hall and have already placed a HK$150,000 order with Martinelli’; Ms Lilian Wong, Lianbee-Jeco Pte Ltd, of Singapore, said: ‘We have visited Fashion Access more than 20 times. It keeps giving us new sources for handbags and leathergoods for our stores.’ James Tanner, of Selfridges, London: ‘The quality of products has greatly improved over previous years. I was impressed.’

The add-on events which make APLF such a comprehensive show were as popular as ever. Exhibitors and visitors particularly liked the ‘Materials Trends Lounge’ and ‘Fashion Trends Lounge’ and supported the ‘Manufacturing Technology Enhancement Forum’ and APLF Seminars.