Paul Ward, joint managing director of African Hide Trading, has retired. He has had a distinguished career of helping companies and was involved in the rescue of Umtali Leathers in 1972 from a parastatal development corporation. The tannery was losing money but with his partner Peter Marshall the tannery became profitable once more. This was in Rhodesia and they envisaged trouble ahead so they sold Umtali to G&D Shoes who renamed them Belmont Leather. Ward stayed on for two years converting production to footwear upper leather.

His next venture was Maluti Leathers in Lesotho but a promising sheepskin car seat cover export business to the US did not transpire and Ward moved on to Silvertown Tannery as company secretary at the time that Silveroak Industries were being formed. When Silveroak closed Silvertown in 1990, Ward moved to Mossop & Son as financial director.

In mid 1993 he became managing director of Ladysmith Leathers which was in trouble at the time. He persuaded BMW and Mercedes to give Ladysmith their first automotive leather contracts and negotiated to sell a share of Ladysmith to German automotive leather tanners Lingens, which was taken over by Setons during the negotiating period.

Ward was transferred to Silveroak’s head office where he became financial director of their Exotan subsidiary. One short month later it was discovered that an expected profit for the year was in fact a loss and Claas Daun the owner at that time sold out to Kolosus.

Under Kolosus, Ward was appointed financial director of African Hide but the following year, along with Alan Sparg, African Hide managing director and two other members of staff, Philip Staples and Derek Walker, they set up Springbok Trading with Claas Daun.

By 2002 Springbok was a market leader for hides and skins in South Africa. They bought liquidated Riverside Tanning which gave them a wet-blue plant at Uitenhage and a 50% share in another plant in Butterworth with Sparta Beef. In 2003 Daun bought Kolosus and the Springbok management took over African Hide.