It is getting intense

The Corium Club dinner in Northampton is just a couple of weeks away on the 18th March.  Paul Evans is the contact for tickets. It is to be held at the Oriental Garden Restaurant, 13 – 15 Sheep Street, Northampton NN1 2LT from 6:30pm and the guest speaker will be David Sherwood of CF Stead & Co. Ltd who is the current president of the Society of Leather Technologists and Chemists. Steads is a world leading tannery in suede and evidence of how dedication to leadership performance and quality can allow a tannery to survive against worldwide competition without having to descend into price competition.

APLF Hong Kong: important for many reasons

The Hong Kong reunion will be on the Wednesday 30th March.  This is the first night of the fair and the format reverts to the normal one with no mixing with other events as we saw last year.

The event will start a little earlier and everyone will be welcome from 5.30pm.  There will be a press conference before-hand in which Dr Wilkinson will be explaining all the changes going on.  It should be another great night. With hide and skin prices accelerating through the roof and the leather world at last admitting that cattle herds cannot keep growing in the way they expanded in the 20th centuries the APLF event and all its associated meetings and seminars has a major importance in this year.  It is not a matter of joining the conversation, it is that everyone is clamouring to be in it in order to understand the implications.

New competition for leather will arise, and polycoated fabrics and non-wovens have really got excellent in recent years. Some end uses will no longer be valid for leather. Pressure groups against leather will see the industry rise against them, just as the fashion industry is doing for fur at the moment.  As the Financial Times said last week. The fashion industry has looked at the modern fur industry, satisfied itself about its environmental credentials and decided to use it in a big way. Times are changing.  More than ever today’s tanners need to understand that marketing is about the customer and the customer’s needs, whereas selling is about the producer and the producer’s needs.  The tanning industry needs to get into marketing in a serious way.

Marketing is not about increasing sales but making the right ones, to the right people, for the right reason.

This is the whole point of the LeatherNaturally! movement, which is a grass roots approach to getting leather as a brand better positioned in the marketplace. Not just in the minds of consumers dominated by anti meat and leather pressure groups but also by designers, brands and retailers who need to be educated about the versatility, elegance and performance of the world’s best and oldest sustainable material.

9th March 2011
Mike Redwood

Busy times

Dr Mark Wilkinson speaking in Pakistan
Dr Mark Wilkinson speaking in Pakistan

With so many changes going on travel and visits have been important lately to spread the message and spearhead the task to find new clients.  Over Christmas Dr Wilkinson was in Pakistan speaking at a National Forum on the Challenges to the Pakistan leather industry and working with partners with whom we hope to deliver our new course set up.  This is essentially based around the same courses but with new methods of delivery.

Pakistan Leather Conference
Pakistan Leather Conference

Working with colleges throughout the world is a key element for future growth, along with companies which are serious about learning programmes.  The Northampton Leather M.Sc. which remains the flagship course which will still be taught in Northampton.  This is a great course for recent graduates in science who want to enter the leather trade – which has jobs available – and for this in industry who need good solid knowledge but cannot afford time for a three year degree.


Guild of Glovers' visit to the University of Northampton
Guild of Glovers' visit to the University of Northampton

We also had a visit from the Guild of Glovers to the University and as well as the Leathersellers centre they visited the Conservation Centre and the Fashion School and so got a full view of what is intended in the new ICLT – Institute of Creative Leather Technology.  For those who are watching Prof Niall Ferguson’s C4 series on “is the west history?” the first episode showed how important the guilds were in shaping the competitive environment and even democracy in their 800 years of history. With Guilds like the Glovers and the Leathersellers right there at the beginning we in the leather trade are well placed to understand what he is talking about. And of course this move to the East is exactly why our format of teaching, research and consultancy has to adapt to a changing world landscape.

7th March 2011