Chennai leather as good as Italy's!

Monday, 31 January 2005, 08:00 Hrs
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CHENNAI: Italians have always prided themselves of making some of the world's finest leather products, and now some of these might come from Chennai, according to the head of a major Italian leather company.

"Products coming from Chennai are exactly as that produced in Italy and, I would say, even better in some cases," Laura Vierucci, director of global marketing for Italian fashion leather major Conceria Virginia, told IANS.

Vierucci is in India for the opening of the first factory here of a joint venture between Conceria Virginia and India's The Forward Group called Conceria Virginia Chennai (CVC).

Conceria Virginia produces one million sq-ft of specialised finished leather for the European market every month.

The factory has been set up in the tanning area of Pammal on the outskirts of Chennai at a cost of 120 million ($2.6 million) and on 50:50 equity.

The hi-tech 50,000-sq ft facility, set up in just about six months, hopes to net revenues of 400 million ($8.8 million) this year, producing six million sq ft of finished leather per year.

It targets export revenue of 300-400 million in the next two years.

"While China has so long been the destination of European leather manufacturers, soon the focus is bound to shift to India," said Asgar Ali Dhala, chairman of The Forward Group.

"The Indian leather industry has received a great impetus with the government allowing FDI, the skills here are great and the products very competitive. Indian colours are already dominating the world fashion trends."

The CVC factory would be the first Indo-Italian tanning facility in the country.
India hopes to reach a leather export target of $4 billion by 2010.

"Indian colours are already dominating world fashion trends," said CVC managing director Yavar Dhala.

"It makes sense to have a factory here that provides the superior technology needed to give finish to leather that is popular worldwide. Europe is completely phasing out its leather tanning industry."

By setting up a finishing plant in India, an international company saves three to four weeks of time that it needs to bring in finished leather from Europe and get it fashioned here, Dhala explained. So finished products can be delivered to the huge Asian markets on time.

The "output of CVC will fill the existing vacuum of a bovine tannery of Italian quality leather", he added.

India does not produce quality bovine leather and this has to be imported in semi-finished form from Europe. In the next few years, Dhala said, he hopes to even process Indian buffalo- and goat-hide.

In the last six months, the company has made around 18 kinds of leather and has bagged initial orders from companies like Marc Shoe, Clark International and Antonioni. It is also tapping markets in Korea, China and Vietnam.

"We actually tell our European customers, it is Italian-made in India. Often, some of our clients drive us. They are expanding business in Asia and want to procure the best in India for their product and brand plants in Vellore or Vaniyambadi," said Vierucci.

CVC has also opened a special showroom for its leather in Chennai and is planning a showroom and office soon also in the Guangzhou province of China.

Source: IANS
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