With the industry pretty much geared up to merge on Bologna in the last week of this month, the news is very much a mixed bag of good, bad and indifferent. Tanning Tech and Lineapelle are by no means the earliest to be staged and the Leather International team has already been to ACLE in Shanghai, Le Cuir A Paris, and Courovisão in Brazil.

No-one is in any doubt that China plays a major role in the leather industry of today and the increased size of ACLE is just one more confirmation of this. During the period since I last wrote, both Trumpler and BASF have opened new facilities in China. The new BASF development is not leather industry specific but it represents the biggest investment in China by any European chemicals manufacturer to date and underlines their committment to the China market.

Le Cuir A Paris benefited from a change in location which made things easy for visitors to Premier Vision to take a look at some inspirational leather. As a result there were more exhibitors and visitors.

Tanning Tech, sadly, will be smaller this year. Some of the bigger names in chemicals have decided not to show and Swiss Hüni have also withdrawn from the machinery section. It was actions such as this that put an end to the much missed Semaine du Cuir. The only consolation with dwindling attendance at both Tanning Tech and Lineapelle is that there is no longer a two-hour struggle to get out of the car park and it is much easier to find hotel accommodation. It is not good for the industry, however.

The struggle for supremacy in Türkiye seems to have been won. There are no plans at the moment for Leather Days but the newcomer, the Istanbul Leather Fair is scheduled to take place January 18-21 at the CNR Expo Centre. This will be the third event and will expand coverage to include chemicals and tanning machinery, occupying five halls.

Sadly, at least two tannery closures have been announced during the past month. Yoma in Argentina have closed due to financial problems which are rooted in the past. The Yoma family are said to be leaving the company and ways are being sought to find new credit in the hope of saving jobs in an area of high unemployment.

Ironically, in the same month that we feature the success of the Scottish Leather Group, we also carry their announcement regarding the closure of Garston. Garston was bought at a time when the group needed to assure their supplies of wet-blue. This is no longer the case and Garston have been operating at a loss and their wet-blues are destined for export.

There has been a round of chemicals price increases in the past few weeks while, at the same time, energy prices are on the up. All of which will make it harder for tanners to make any return on their investment in their own variety of raw materials. This does not provide a promising background against which abattoirs and hide markets and traders can achieve higher prices. There is a limit to how high prices of leather can rise before the market hits back, with the tanner caught in the middle.

Matters were not helped when Rwandan customs were instructed by the Ministry of Commerce to stop all processing of export documents of raw hides and skins. This means that Rwanda had unofficially banned the export of raw hides and skins. This stranded some 20 containers of wet-salted hides and dry goat and sheepskins, most already paid for by the overseas buyers. Times are not easy, that is for sure!

Shelagh Davy