Hong Kong confirms: demand remains strong and prices of hides go sky high but there is work for those offering fashion and innovative content

The latest edition of APLF MM&T of Hong Kong was unanimously considered the best in latter years. More dealers than had been seen for quite a while – especially on the first two days – crowded the stands of tanners but also those of machinery and auxiliary chemicals producers looking for the latest in fashion content, finishes and technology, confirming the air of recovery already felt at the end of 2013. This year MM&T hosted a total of 18,895 visitors including 8,174 buyers from outside China and Hong Kong, representing an impressive increase of 8,7% in comparison to last year. Naturally the leading topic of conversation among many suppliers and buyers during the fair was that of prices of hides, which arrived at new records and today appear to be the greatest obstacle to a real recovery in the world leather trade. Furthermore the tendency to raise prices of hide doesn’t look about to end soon, all the experts declare it would be good even if 2014 remains at the same level as last year.

As to the fair, samples were judged to be plenty and attractive, drawing great interest in novelties and already many orders, even if of a different quantity to the past, seem to have been placed. The Chinese tanning industry is confirmed as going through a transit period that, as well as problems connected with new environmental rules, includes growing difficulty in credit access and relative payments but, as we know, the Hong Kong fair has a range of action that extends to all of Southeast Asia as well as Oceania and South America.

The 2014 edition held at the end of March celebrated 30 years of the event, showing offers from over 1,200 exhibitors from 50 countries including as many as 27 groups and according to participants chalked up an increment in dealers from many different places, first of all Japan, that despite exchange problems still prefers high quality leathers, but also Korea and Indonesia. So, helped by an air of recovery, the fair remains a solid platform for the global leather market. Among the most satisfied of national groups was certainly Brazil that enjoyed the spotlight also thanks to many initiatives (various seminars, shows and presentations) organized by the CICB for it as the focus country of this edition. There were also positive comments from many Italian tanners who as always made up the most numerous national group.

A good fair and good contacts.

– summed up Alessandro Iliprandi of the BONAUDO tannery.

We worked well despite the problem of raw hides.

– said Aldo Donati of AUSONIA. Satisfaction also for ONDA VERDE that in China already covers 25-30% of its export revenue.

We can’t all be slaves to the big names. We prefer to diversify and now work well also with Chinese manufacturers but only those that produce for the domestic market, the one that is growing and willing to pay for quality leather.

– What do the Chinese want today?

Once new colours were enough but now they too seek the latest novelties even if models of shoes or bags are still copied.

– explained Tiziano Bonistalli.

We noted substantial interest, above all from Japanese and Indonesians who asked us for lots of samples. Let’s hope results will be concrete but things were certainly more lively than in the past and the fair seems to have regained its old importance.

– said Fabrizio di Giuseppe and Samuele Maccanti of the CAPITAL tannery. A different opinion from Francesco Palandrani of GEMINI:

To my mind  It’s just a waste of time with Chinese tanners who, above all, go round looking and seeking information. They don’t have clear ideas and are not willing to invest. To me the Indians seem more decided and when convinced that an article could be successful they get down to discussing the project.

– observed the entrepreneur from Abruzzo. Also among producers of auxiliary chemicals one noticed a certain satisfaction with the results of the fair.

Attendance was certainly good. Many Chinese dealers we hadn’t seen for a while returned to the fair but there are a lot of problems.

– affirmed Claudio Rosati of LMF BIOKIMICA. The local tanning industry is going through a transformation, many firms have closed and others are changing markets and productive systems. The good thing is that they are trying to upgrade the quality of leathers but it’s hard to give work continuity because by nature the Chinese love to change suppliers. Satisfaction with participation at the fair was also expressed by machinery producers such as Alessio Maffei and Loreno Freschi of BARNINI/MOSTARDINI:

We noted a certain activity, definitely more than last year. We saw many operators from Indonesia, India, Singapore. Some interesting requests arrived from Indonesian tanners who have entered the scene of big luxury groups and now need to reconstruct. A similar trend to that now in progress in France, never so lively as at present.

To conclude, applause for the many initiatives organized to celebrate the 30th anniversary of APLF such as the beautiful show “Live in Leather” – that involved important designers and suggested new uses for leather in furnishing and everyday life – but also the interesting seminars arranged in Leather Forum that provided valuable information on fashion, the market and technology.

The next edition of APLF MM&T is already set for 30 March to 1 April 2015.

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