50 foreign firms at annual leather expo

Saturday, 31 January 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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Chennai, Around 250 leather firms, including 50 from abroad, are participating in the annual international leather fair here that showcases goods ranging from leather accessories to garments and footwear.

The largest foreign delegation is from Italy, with 15 exporters. Brazil, China, Germany, Holland, Iran, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Britain are also represented.

Indian entrepreneurs will be presented export awards at the 19th annual India International Leather Fair that opened here Saturday.

Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry S.B. Mookherjee will present the awards to firms that have exported for values of more than $1 million in 2002-03.

Tata International is the overall winner and best exporter of finished leather.

In leather footwear, Farida Shoes of Chennai has bagged the honour, while an employee of Cheviot International of New Delhi has been judged the best woman entrepreneur.

Among the products on display are footwear and accessories, designer wear, saddle items, machinery for tanning, shoe making and chemicals.

The event began with a Leather Week in this southern city during which a series of seminars on processing and quality will take place.

The fair has been organised by the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation and the Council of Leather Exports.

Leather exporters are targeting annual revenues of $4 billion by 2010, and want finished goods to reach a share of four percent of the global market, double the present share.

The five-day fair is being held at the sprawling Chennai Trade Fair Centre.

Said Laura Melloni, leading the Italian delegation to the fair: "The leather industry in the Marche region (Italy's footwear and design district from where the business delegation hails) caters to high-end fashion leaders.

"In the last few years, we entered into 12 joint ventures with Mexican firms. The next country we are looking at for joint ventures is India. This is the first time we are participating in the fair with such a large contingent."

Italian and other foreign firms are looking at joint ventures in production. Italian and Spanish businessmen are targeting collaborations in shoe uppers, finished shoes, soles and moulds.

European firms supplying to the Chinese or American industry no longer find it cost effective to produce in Italy or Spain and are looking at outsourcing. They are satisfied that India can provide medium to high end quality, Melloni said.

Big firms like Johnson & Murphy, Trimfoot and others are also looking at retailing from India.

Chief of Council of Leather Exports S. Audiseshaiah said that Harrods and other chain stores already buy leather items from India. The price of one leather garment has gone up this year from $35 to $40.

Among the major importing countries from India are the US, nearly $238 million, Italy, about $248 million, and Germany, $265 million. Finished leather and footwear top the export charts, and the next is leather goods and accessories.

This year, buyers from Latin America, Africa and Italy are being wooed.

Business to the tune of $102 million was conducted in the 18th edition of the fair last year. The organisers hope to reach the $150 million mark this year.

Source: IANS
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