Chinese tanners looking to upgrade

18 July 2011

Chinese tanneries account for a major portion of worldwide semi- and finished leather, buoyed by healthy demand from both home and abroad. According to the China Leather Industry Association (CLIA), the gross industrial output value for leather, over the period Jan-May 2011 was US$299.3 billion: an impressive increase of 26.9% year–on-year. Total exports of leather, fur and leather products were US$23.1 billion, an increase of 28.8% over last year.

The upcoming ACLE show in Shanghai ranges across the entire supply-chain of the global leather industry: from raw material of hides and skins, to semi- and finished-leathers, chemicals and dyes, tanning machinery, to CAD/CAM systems and software. The show takes place September 6-8 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center.

The exhibition has built a solid reputation, over some 14 years, as China’s premier international leather event. It is held in Shanghai’s Pudong area. There is no better place – or time – for overseas and domestic suppliers to get ahead of the curve in understanding the many and varied demands of the market in China, meet a wide range of major Chinese buyers, get up to date with developments and innovations, learn the latest trade gossip and use this once-a-year opportunity to network.

The All China Leather Exhibition (ACLE) has long been the bell weather for China’s leather making industry. 2011 looks like being no exception. The mood upbeat and confident, as it has been for the past several years.

Also, cost levels in industries supplied by leather makers continue to escalate and this impact in traditional leather and shoemaking industry sectors. Labour rates in particular have spiraled upward, reportedly by as much as 20-30% in some instances while a shortage of skilled workers aggravates the problem.

So, although the present holds no particular added danger for tanners, things could become a bit turbulent later.

As always ACLE is good time for tanners to review their operations and look for ways of improving productivity, upgrade product lines, and seek out industry trends for both the short and medium term future.

Finished goods of all types: bags, footwear, leather garments, etc. are recording healthy sales levels in China’s retail market which largely compensate for slower (or slowing) markets in North America, Japan and Europe. Meanwhile, China’s massive car and automotive industry (10+ million new cars and light vehicles predicted for 2011) has a ravenous demand for leather upholstery and trim.

With the ‘Big Brands’, such as LV and Coach doing extremely well in China’s retail market, pressure is building already for higher-end products to come from new domestic labels. Building a brand takes time, but any company wishing to enter this field must offer top quality products right from the start.

All of which forces Chinese tanneries to stay ahead by constantly upgrading and innovation. Many (if not most) of these developments are pioneered by international companies. Many (if not most) leading international companies in this sector are represented at ACLE.

CIFF & Moda Shanghai

Running concurrently with ACLE, are two highly regarded exhibitions featuring finished goods from some of leading Chinese manufacturers.

They are the China International Footwear Fair (CIFF) and Moda Shanghai 2011.

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