Indo-Italian JV opens in Chennai

22 March 2005

The first foreign tanner to directly invest in the Indian leather sector, a 50:50 joint venture between the Chennai-based Forward Group and Conceria Virginia Italy (CVI), began operations on January 28, 2005. The facility, located on the outskirts of Chennai covers an area of 50,000 sq ft. Conceria Virginia Chennai (CVC) is the first bovine tannery in India to incorporate Italian tanning technology and expertise. Rs12 crores (US$2.75million) has been invested in the facility which will produce 6 million sq ft per annum for a wide range of products including calf leather, heavy leather, performance leather, suedes and nubuck. The entire leather making process from wet-blue to the finished product will be carried out under the same roof. The tannery is connected to the Pallavaram tanners and industrial effluent plant and the local central effluent treatment plant, thereby ensuring 100% protection to the environment around the facility. Effluents from the factory will be treated according to standards maintained in India and Italy. CVI will train over 50 employees to use the technology which has been installed at the plant. CVC have also constructed a 3,000 sq ft showroom in the heart of Chennai city giving access to their complete product range and enabling clients to place orders. Initial orders have been secured from leading names in the Indian and international leather industry and it is hoped that these orders will help the company reach their target revenue of Rs40 Crore (US$9.2 million) over the next twelve months. Laura Vierucci, head of global marketing, CVC stated 'the product mix in the tannery will enable us to reach out to various markets as well as consumers as it will be cost effective for Indian shoe manufacturers to buy cow leathers of international standards from within their own country.' The Chennai based Forward group are manufacturers and exporters who specialise in finished leather, shoe uppers and shoes. The company have a 2,600-strong workforce and a state of the art manufacturing facility in Chennai. CVI finished leather manufacturers are located in Toscana, specialising in cow and calf leather as well as high quality vegetable tanned articles. CVI will lend their experience in raw material resourcing, technology transfer and marketing. They will also oversee purchase of wet-blue from Europe. Extending technical support and streamlining the marketing processes to reach out to customers across Europe, China, and South East Asia are among the key responsibilities of the Italian partner of CVC. Matteo di Palma, chairman of CVI describes CVC as a 'JV between two market leaders with a similar outlook, to produce and market world class leather out of Chennai.' Asgar Ali Dhala, chairman of the Forward group said: 'The Indian leather industry has received great impetus after the government opened the doors for foreign direct investment. In the future, we believe that more global companies will partner with Indian manufacturers.'

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