This forward thinking and innovative approach also involves using the latest technology and offering progressive working conditions and adhering to health and safety standards and training.

Mexican tanners would do well to move away from the parochial outlook which seems to dominate and to take a leaf out of Wyny’s book.

Wyny Mexico began life in 1978 as a vegetable tanner with 15 employees who processed 100 pieces of leather per week. A new division to chrome tan leathers was created in 1992. Both of these activities are carried out on the company’s site in León where they now employ a total of 650 staff.

Exports increased by 25% in 2005, driven by the quality of the product as well as the presence of sales offices in all of the major markets for veg-tanned leather. Quality and price are competitive.

In line with this growth in exports, overall production of veg tanned leather grew by 20% in 2005 to a total of 3,500 leathers per day. Production of chrome tanned leather grew by 40% to 700,000 sq ft per month.

Thomas Nienow, director, told Leather International that the company’s exports account for 50% of Mexico’s total exports of leather for footwear and leathergoods industries. Production of footwear for the domestic market has increased this year as the strength of the Brazilian Real has led to lower footwear imports.

Nienow stated that Mexican footwear manufacturers had been able to recapture the domestic market, with the highest quality products with leather soles experiencing a particularly significant rise in sales.

In order to maximise their appeal to leathergoods producers, Wyny Mexico have a team of eight people who are dedicated to the development of new products and provide advice and support to clients. The team is also involved in creating fashionable veg tanned leathers and then offering these fashions direct to the brands. The team’s constant contact with brands means that designers are up to date on the latest trends and styles; exclusive information.

The latest environmental technology is used. WYNY Mexico have a biological treatment plant which utilises active sludge and the company recently invested US$800,000 in their water treatment plant. Air filters conform to Mexican standards and polluting products such as azo dyes are no longer used. International standards on water, waste and emissions to air are adhered to at WYNY’s installations in all three countries.

In addition to the Mexican operation, Wyny are also present in Brazil and have recently made an acquisition in Argentina. According to Nienow, having production sites in three different countries means that WYNY can offer clients a greater flexibility and a wider variety of articles.

The Brazilian plant, located in Ibipora, Parana state, has been operating for ten years. Currently 5,000 leathers are processed per day, with vegetable tanning accounting for 30% and chrome 70%. The company plan to increase overall production to 8,000 pieces per day by the end of 2006. The majority of leather produced at Ibipora (80%) is exported to Europe and Asia with the remaining 20% sold in the domestic market.

An additional plant is under construction in Rondonia (north west Brazil) with a planned capacity of 4,000 hides per day.

The latest expansion was the acquisition of a new plant in Argentina. Located in Avellaneda (in the province in Buenos Aires) the modern plant was bought from the GRD group last October. Wyny plan to produce vegetable tanned leather and leather for automotive upholstery there. Nienow highlighted the importance of the supply of high quality raw material offered by Argentina as a motivational factor.