If you are going to Lineapelle this week the visit the University of Northampton in Hall 9 Stand P5. If you are a lost alumni it is time to check in. If you think you might be eligible for an honorary degree this is getting close to your last chance to apply. If you want to hear about the New Campus to be built by 2018 this is the right time. If you want to influence its design or if you have opinions on the courses and how they need to evolve this us the moment to start making a difference. And if you want your name on a building you need to get moving.
Yes it is a transitional moment for the University, hopefully towards even greater things. We are also in a period of trade fair overload at a time of huge transition. The $100 hide as a new baseline, plastics passing off as leather, yet getting better all the time and geopolitics breaking out all over the leather trade. And trade bodies that were just getting re-united becoming dysfunctional once again.
So what are the implications? Simple really. We live in a time and work in an industry that needs well educated staff. Leather is difficult. Trying to manage any part of the chain requires knowledge of the raw material and of the ways it is processed. Bringing outside skills into the industry is good but managing without understanding the technical fundamentals will fail.
It is quite clear that throughout our industry strategic minds are coming to the fore. The leather industry is not insulated from the world, indeed the reverse. The pressures on agriculture, the changing world politics, growth in wealth and GDP and all manner of macro issues weigh heavily on the industry. Thoroughly trained management are required.
At the same time to beat off the plastic competition it is innovative technology that is essential. Leather that does more than match the best that the raw material offers, but rather leather that better meets the needs and expectations of the consumer. The aesthetics of a truly natural material matched with the performance expected to meet the demands of the modern world.
Evidence from the All China Leather Show last week indicates that top tanners from Brazil to China are ready to take on that challenge. Make leather on its merits for the customer, not on a historic tanners view of its grade.
7th September 2014