Bridge of Weir launch global venture in China - Zibow

3 September 2009

Bridge of Weir Leather Company, part of Scottish Leather Group, announced on September 3, that it is to launch a joint venture in China as demand for their hides continues to increase.

Founded in 1905 Bridge of Weir Leather is a privately owned Scottish company specialising in seating leather for the automotive industry. Chinese joint venture partners, Zibo Polygrace Dahuanjiu Tannery Group Ltd, are manufacturers and exporters of top quality upholstery leathers and view the joint venture with Bridge of Weir as an ideal opportunity to combine the talents of both companies to tap into the fast growing Chinese car market.

US$3 million has been invested in the new automotive leather finishing, testing and cutting facility, which will allow the company to increase its share of the Chinese market. Bridge of Weir already exports specialist quality upholstery leather to over 30 countries worldwide. 

Lord Peter Mandelson, UK secretary of state for business, innovation & skills said of the announcement: ‘Zibow is a great example of British and Chinese technology transfer and business collaboration. China has much to offer British companies and Bridge of Weir Leather is leading the way with this substantial investment.'

The new company, Zibo Polygrace Bridge of Weir Leather Co. Ltd - to be known as Zibow Automotive, will be based in the Shandong Province of China on the manufacturing site of the venture partner.

Zibow plans to target car manufacturers based in China and is forecasting a turnover of US$20 million in year five. Initially it will concentrate on the domestic Chinese market but will look to expand its operation to export into the Far East from its Chinese base .The joint venture will create 20 jobs in the first year with additional recruitment planned. Most of the hides will be tanned and dyed at the company's Bridge of Weir tannery and exported to China for finishing.

Hank Zhou, chairman of the new joint venture, Zibow: ‘This exciting new venture will allow Bridge of Weir Leather to further increase its reach into the Chinese and Asian markets and help build a global brand. We have already secured business from Swedish car manufacturer, Volvo, who will be the first client to work with us and we plan to target all other China based European, Japanese and US manufacturers as well as the fast growing local Chinese manufacturers.'

‘Bridge of Weir has many years experience in working with the world's top car manufacturers and we look forward to a happy and prosperous partnership.'

Chinese Leather Industry Association (CLIA) spokesperson said: ‘We are very pleased that Zibo Polygrace Group has established a joint venture with the Bridge of Weir Leather Company Ltd from Scotland. We offer our sincere best wishes for the success of the new company, Zibo Polygrace Bridge of Weir Leather Co Ltd (Zibow), which will focus primarily on the production of quality automotive leather.'

‘Combining the strengths of both companies will no doubt prove to be a winning combination. We are confident that Zibow will make an important contribution to the continuing transformation of the leather industry not just within China, but globally.'

With such ambitious plans, Zibow are confident that they will exceed a turnover of US $2.8million in the first year.

Zibow factory

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