Indian leather industry eyes overseas presence

Wednesday, 28 January 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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CHENNAI: The Indian leather industry plans to emerge as an outsourcing hub for global retail giants like Walmart by joining hands with foreign companies, official said here Tuesday.

"The focus of a commerce ministry initiated survey will be on developing network between industry, research organisations, universities and markets," T. Ramasamy, director of Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) told media persons here.

CLRI and the Leather Industry Associations began a three-day brainstorming session here Tuesday with a view to change the paradigm of the Indian leather industry.

The Indian leather sector is now planning to woo foreign companies for joint ventures and emerge as a "good outsourcing option," said officials.

In the tenth five-year plan period, which began in April last year, the government has allocated 4 billion for boosting this sector, which employs 2.5 million people.

The Indian leather sector has bought in $975 million in export revenues from April to September 2003 and officials hope to take it to the $4 billion mark by 2010.

"From just a single research institute in the last decade we have moved not only to networking with end users of our research but also with other technical institutions to bring in shared benefits," said a CLRI official.

Official say countries like Italy are now looking at outsourcing to India in a major way in view of the rising production cost there.

Mondaele, a major Italian company, has tied up with Saba India to set up a plant for manufacturing shoe soles in Pondicherry. Another Indian company is likely to set up a plant near Chennai, also with Italian collaboration.

The CLE has been talking to Walmart for more than a year now, and recently Walmart officials toured leather production centres in Agra, Jalandhar, Chennai, Ambur and Ranipet.

A 15-member Walmart team is expected to meet CLE officials to place orders for Indian leather products on the global retail giant's shelves soon. Companies like Target too are showing interest in investing in India.

Source: IANS
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