The stabilisation of the German leather industry gained new momentum in 2000 after a small growth of 0.6 per cent in 1999, the German Leather Federation reported.

For the first eight months of this year turnover grew 9.4 per cent to 350 Mio of which 47 per cent was direct export. Production of bovine grain leather is expected to grow to 14 Mio sqm's whereas calf leather production, especially for the shoe sector, is going to recover from last year's losses due to the economic crisis in the Far East.

Unlike the previous year, production has been driven again by stronger export and a weaker domestic market. Direct exports made up 47 per cent of production (up eight per cent). It is estimated that some additional 20 per cent is also shipped abroad through German clients. The 60 leather producing companies, out of which 28 employ more than 20 people, represent a total work force of 3,400 employees.

Continuously higher cost for raw cow hides and calf skins over the whole year made it difficult for most leather manufacturers to stay in the market with cost covering prices. Rising leather demands in most international markets, stabilisation at high levels for automotive leathers in Germany made price increases of finished leather necessary in the range of 10 to 15 per cent.

Shoe market in Europe with signs of hope
Overall shoe production in Europe is slowly recovering and, due to better exports sales production in the European Union, might again exceed the 1 billion pairs level. Higher production costs per pair however indicate that higher priced shoes have been made and/or higher priced materials might have been processed.

German footwear finds niche upmarket
Due to high production costs in Germany, especially in the environment field, German tanners have been concentrating on high end segment of outdoor-, children-, luxury and specialised shoemarkets. German tanners exhibit bovine and calf upper leathers for upper, lining, and bags. There are also major suppliers of bonded leather, raw hides and wet-blue/crust. For all companies, highest quality standards prevail as well as quick response to fashion trends, combined with permanent serviceship to the clients.

German Leather Industry on the web
For further inquiries, the German Leather Federation's website can be found at www.vdi-web.de. In English and German, costumers can find information on German tanners, their production programme, and use of raw materials.