Bader Bop are to cease wet-blue production, but this is not an indication that the tannery is downscaling, according to technical director Stephan Wolf.

‘Essentially, we’re following the same route as the rest of the Bader group worldwide by switching to buying in our wet-blue hides’, he said. ‘There is enough wet-blue tanning capacity in South Africa – and very good wet-blue tanners – to enable us to buy in whatever local hides we need.’

He said Bader were concentrating their efforts on finishing, where they are investing around US$900,000 in new finishing equipment and systems to enable them to ‘gear up for the next 20 years’.

Bader had decided to move away from their own wet-blue production, in part because of the need to import more of their hide requirements. ‘During the foot and mouth crisis in Europe, we had a situation where four days’ production was lost because untanned hides, which had been shipped from Germany before the crisis, arrived in Durban after it had begun, and the authorities quarantined them and then forced us to send them back. If they had been wet-blued, there would not have been a problem.’

Despite the widely-held belief that automotive leather production in South Africa is on the wane, Bader was ‘not slowing down or downsizing’, Wolf said. ‘This just makes us more flexible.’