There are no plans to change the direction of Mossop-Western Leathers, following the departure of managing director André Pelser, and the tannery’s financial performance to date was ‘quite acceptable’, according to Paul Schouten, CEO of the KAP International group of companies, of which Mossop-Western is a part through subsidiary Feltex.

New managing director is Willie Kotzé, who was operations director prior to this appointment. The public face of Mossop-Western has changed considerably in recent months. Firstly, Richard Bryant and Ali Hakimi, marketing and technical directors respectively, resigned in March to set up their own venture and now Pelser, who was appointed by Mossop-Western’s previous owner, Kolosus Holdings, has left.

Kotzé said it was too soon to talk about any plans he intended to implement. ‘I need to sit down with my fellow directors first and then we have to go out to introduce ourselves to our customers. In terms of experience, we have the numbers to take this company forward. Richard and Ali were close colleagues, and they will be missed, but this company has been around for 159 years, and I’m sure it has everything it requires to be around 159 years from now.’

Kotzé was appointed as human resources manager at the then Western Tanning Company in 1992, from an HR background. In 1993 he was appointed a director, and in 1999, following the merger of Western with Mossop, he was appointed operations director, combining the functions of production, HR and logistics.

The rest of the management team consists of financial and logistics director, Christo Kemp, senior technical manager, Stephen Smith, senior marketing manager, Johan May, and senior production manager, Terry Boucher.

André Pelser’s departure from Mossop-Western Leathers was ‘a huge shock’, he said, but it may not mark the end of his connection with the leather and footwear industries. The terms of his resignation had not been finalised at the time of writing, and neither he nor Rob Radford, executive director of the Feltex group of companies, of which Mossop-Western is part, were prepared to comment on the reasons for his departure.

However, Pelser remains first deputy president of SAFLIA and, perhaps more importantly, a vice chairman of AFLAI, the African Federation of Leather Industry Associations, and he said he would ‘like to continue my association with the industry insofar as I can make a contribution.’

Pelser, who put his background as a diplomat to good use in his dealings with AFLAI, can take considerable credit for keeping that organisation alive and his vision for it was that it would serve as a vehicle to promote the leather industry as a whole to the African Union and its economic blueprint, NEPAD. His thinking was that since Africa had the raw materials in abundance, the leather industry could sell itself as an obvious candidate for Africa-wide government support.