A new co-operative to use the expertise and capacity of small Brazilian tanners to gain more export business has been formed under the name Cooperleather. The concept was initiated in the leathermaking locality of São Sebastiao do Paraizo in the Minas Gerais state of Brazil last year and was purely for the benefit of the local community.

Now membership has been extended to any small tannery in Brazil employing up to 100 people. The co-operative is, therefore, likely to grow, offering a higher processing capacity and a wider range of leathers. The accent is on having members offering complementary rather than competitive products.

Already the 25 tanners belonging to Cooperleather provide a combined daily throughput capacity of 24,000 hides. The tanneries specialise in working from wet-blue which they take through to crust, dyed crust and fully finished. The leathers can be processed for any application including footwear (uppers and soling), apparel, leathergoods, handbags, gloving and belting.

Ulysses Cardoso has been appointed executive director. He explained at the Asian launch of the co-operative at the Asia Pacific Leather Fair that the intention is to harness the collective strength of Brazil’s small tanners to serve the international marketplace. ‘Traditionally’, he said, ‘our small tanners have just responded to local and domestic demands. But there is little future along that route. With government backing under the APEX project, we are now in a position to offer overseas customers access to a wide range of leathers from our members.

‘The APEX project is an initiative by the Brazilian government to encourage small companies to band together to offer their products and services to a wider customer base throughout the world. The shoe and leather industry is the first to respond.

‘We can be highly flexible and offer good quality products at highly competitive prices. Customers can be assured of consistent quality as we have our own quality assurance inspectors. There is also the benefit that customers can order a variety of leathers from one source in a one-stop deal. Additionally, we stress that all our leathers are manufactured using environmentally sound principles and practices.’

In the seven months since Cooperleather was formed, good orders have been received from countries as diverse as Italy, Spain and Portugal in Europe to Taiwan, China and Korea in Asia. The level of business enquiry was also reported to be high at APLF.

Access to Cooperleather can be gained through the network of agents being established throughout the world or direct to Ulysses Cardoso, Rua Jose Francisco de Castro, 108; 37.950-000 São Sebastiao do Paraiso; MG; Brazil. E-mail: ulysses@paraisonet.com.br