It has been a hectic few weeks for the leather industry. Everyone expected prices of raw material to fall at APLF and they stayed up. Then everyone thought that Lineapelle would mark the peak and they still stayed up. Now they are hoping that a quieter level of business will force a fall: but while speculators might have caused a partially false high it is hard to get away from a feeling that we are looking at a long term towards higher raw prices in our sector.
And despite some concern about the level of trade, mostly in Europe, many of those the University interface with remain very busy. Margins are tight but the route to improvement is a mix of innovation, careful product positioning and perhaps some structural adjustment. This is the moment to get serious about the look of the value chain, and should involve looking at elements beyond your own factory walls to see what needs to be reconfigured.
In a way that is what is happening in the UK University sector as income streams have been stood on their head. It does in retrospect look like the updating of the tannery, research labs and classrooms was done just in time to meet the new types of demand. New courses, increased student expectations and evolving teaching methods are a lot to handle all at once.
Get Leather at Northampton on a Roll
Add to these the keen interest of the Vice Chancellor who within the space of four weeks has been checking out the role of leather by visiting Ethiopia, India and APLF at Hong Kong. And in each location he had his enthusiasm for leather and the fit for the University in this sector enhanced. The historic danger has been that we have not been able to turn this enthusiasm into students on courses but it does seem that now things are really moving. We had a good Hong Kong last year and an even better one this with one student flying straight over from Hong Kong for this week’s short course. If you are an alumnus reading this get involved. Think about how you can use or contribute to industry education and research. Let us take advantage of where we are with great facilities, top rate staff and a University with associated skills in Fashion, Podiatry, Waste Management and Product Design.
19th April 2012