Our Bureau

Chennai, Feb. 3

RAW material and component suppliers for leather products globally are looking to Indian manufacturers. The industry is set to grow with leading brands of the US and Europe sourcing from India. Participants at the India International Leather Fair be it Zahonero, a Spanish multi-million dollar shoe component manufacturer that is setting up a wholly-owned subsidiary at Noida targeting the domestic industry, or Brazilian tanners wanting to export cow leather, from a breed that was originally from India, to manufacturers here say India is the market to be in.

According to officials of the Council for Leather Exports, Zahonero is setting up a subsidiary to manufacture parts of shoe components. The company is set to supply parts to shoemakers targeting the domestic market.

Zahonero officials, who declined to comment about the size of the project or divulge details at this stage, said that the company is presenting its products for the second year at the leather fair and there has been a marked increase in visitors and a number of serious enquiries.

This year there were more visitors from major production centres, including Mumbai, Kolkata, Kanpur and Agra.

Zahonero has manufacturing facilities in Spain, Mexico, Brazil and China, and sales offices worldwide. It is now setting up shop in India and will target the domestic market.

According to Mr Flavio Alberto Lucchese, Advisor, Centre of Brazilian Tanning Industries, leading a group of seven tanners from Brazil, this is their first visit to the fair and they are certainly going to be back next year. As the Indian industry is on the growth curve Mr Lucchese feels that Brazilian tanners can offer products not available here, particularly cow leather to shoemakers, and leather accessories and large sizes of hides ideal for upholstery.

And where do you think they got these extra large sizes?

Several decades ago Brazil imported Indian stock and crossbred them with their own. But, according to Mr Lucchese, they are "more Indian than Brazilian''.

Mr Roque Kerbes, Director of Aimore Couros, a tanner, said Brazil is at present selling more than half of its hides to China and the rest to the US, Canada and Europe. India is a growing market, which they hope to tap.

According to the Mr Graham Barber of UK-based Shoemat, the company is looking for agents to stock products here. It is targeting the welted shoe segment. While the company had earlier focussed on Kanpur, a major centre for safety-shoes for industrial use, the growth in the South has encouraged it to look at the opportunities here.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 4, 2005)
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