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Opinion » ILM Editorial

Martin Ricker

Everyone is talking about Vietnam
Editorial - first published in ILM Sept-Oct issue
Published:  12 October, 2016

There was growing evidence that as we headed to the ACLE in Shanghai for China’s premiere industry event of the year, the dynamics of the leather supply chain in the country are now shifting away and the pace is quickening. The days of China being ‘the’ low cost manufacturing hub are now gone. Wages are rising, the cost of energy and doing business is increasing, and some tanners in Wuji (Hebei) started the summer with their plants shut due to yet another environmental clamp down by the government. Major manufacturers including Stella Group have closed factories in places such as Dongguan, shedding thousands of jobs and moving them away.  


Martin Ricker

A two-tier tanning industry
ILM Editorial - Martin Ricker
Published:  17 August, 2016

Article first published in ILM May-June 2016 edition. During late June I found myself on two very different but both equally interesting trips. They provided me with, maybe, a glimpse into where and what the leather industry of the future may look like. On each trip, it became more apparent than ever that in the future there will be two-tier leather industry. One based on technology and mechanisation for the wealthier tanners, and another based on a new breed of SME tannery entrepreneurs from the developing world opening up new markets and creating wealth.


Martin Ricker

Dealing with the chrome VI issue
ILM Editorial - Martin Ricker
Published:  02 August, 2016

This article was first published in International Leather Maker, May-June 2016 edition. The possibility of the presence of toxic chrome VI in leather is one problem regularly faced by tanners. Many articles and papers have been written on the subject, and it is used by some NGO’s and anti-leather groups as proof that leather making is a dangerous and toxic process. However, we all know that the vast majority of leather made in the world is chrome-tanned and chrome tanning is safe.


Martin Ricker

No delight in Turkey
ILM Editorial - First published in ILM March-April 2016 edition
Published:  23 May, 2016

The March/April edition of ILM was published around this year’s edition of the APLF in Hong Kong, and Turkey was the APLF 2016 focus country. I can think of no other time when the Turkish leather industry needed a focus and exposure at a major international event.


Martin Ricker

Time to abolish the brand
ILM Editorial - First published in ILM Jan-Feb 2016 edition
Published:  14 March, 2016

As we look forward to an upturn in market conditions in 2016, a hot topic in the industry will continue to be around animal welfare.


Martin Ricker

A great industry achievement
ILM Editorial - First published in ILM Nov-Dec 2015 edition
Published:  14 March, 2016

The global leather industry still has many problems to address where working conditions, legal protections and environmental compliance remain well short of minimum accepted international standards.


Martin Ricker

The true cost of raw materials
ILM Editorial - First published in ILM July-Aug 2015 edition.
Published:  01 February, 2016

It has been described as the worst downturn to hit the tanning industry since late 2008 and early 2009. Yet somehow this “crisis” feels a lot different. Rather than another part of the economy caught up in a global recession as it was then, this feels a bit more self-inflicted. The first half of 2015 will not go down as a “vintage” like it did in 2013-14. 


Martin Ricker

Death on the job
ILM Editorial - Martin Ricker
Published:  08 December, 2015

It is a sad fact that by early December ILM has reported on the deaths of fifteen tannery workers, covering four separate incidents which occurred mainly due to negligence. Historically, the tanning industry has had a poor record in this area and the relocation of manufacturing from developed to emerging countries, where worker health and safety is less stringent, has only served to make matters worse.


Martin Ricker

The battle we could never win!
ILM Editorial – Martin Ricker
Published:  17 August, 2015

So now we know. The European Commission (EC) has effectively rejected the tanning industry’s proposal for the product category rules and methodology for determining leather’s carbon footprint leading to a globally accepted life cycle analysis. Tanners will have to accept some of the burden it seems.


Martin Ricker

Value addition for tanners
ILM Editorial – Martin Ricker
Published:  18 June, 2015

After an absence of a year, Simac Tanning-Tech returned to the show calendar in February alongside Lineapelle at its new location in Milan. It was good to see the show return after being absent in 2014 and give tanners a view of the latest equipment on the market. 


Martin Ricker

The return of the “veggie”
ILM Editorial - Martin Ricker
Published:  26 March, 2015

Article first published ILM January-February 2015 edition. I recently posted a link via social media on a couple of leather industry related LinkedIn groups – Something’s Fishy and Really Cruel About Luxury’s New Leather Trend by Jessica Ramos. In the article the author referred to “vegan leather”, an oxymoron if ever there was one, which drew a comment from Matthew Abbott of UK tanner Joseph Clayton & Sons: “Two words that should never appear together.”


Martin Ricker

How many animals do you eat?
ILM Editorial - Martin Ricker
Published:  28 January, 2015

I read a lot of stories in the trade press about the climbing raw material prices and a falling number of animals to produce the leather of the future. Is this just a blip or is it a trend that will carry on long into the future? As leather is a by-product of the meat industry, what kind of protein is consumed has a massive bearing on the future of our industry. First published in ILM Noevmber-December 2014, page 4.


Martin Ricker

The Circular Economy
ILM Editorial - Martin Ricker
Published:  11 November, 2014

According to one online blogger, the fashion sector is taking a lead on disruptive “circular economy” business models. Some may be familiar with this environmental concept that may become a normal part of our lives in the future. But what is a “circular economy”?


Martin Ricker

Well-done CLIA
ILM Editorial - Martin Ricker
Published:  24 September, 2014

We have all seen China rise to become the dominant industrial force in the world, including in the leather and leather products industries over the past three decades, but 2014 may go down in history as the year that China changed.


Genius or a flawed concept?
ILM Editorial - Martin Ricker
Published:  13 June, 2014

I first contacted Modern Meadow about six months ago to find out more about how they would produce meat and leather by taking cells from a single cow. I was politely refused an interview.


Martin Ricker

Are the days of chrome-tanned leather numbered?
ILM Editorial - Martin Ricker
Published:  19 April, 2014

I’m stumbling into controversial territory this time. Most leather produced today is made with chromium III salts and let’s be absolutely clear: as it stands now, chrome tanning for most applications is the best mechanism for making leather. 


Martin Ricker

Is it correct to correct?
ILM Editorial - Martin Ricker
Published:  16 February, 2014

Despite the technological progress of mankind in everything that we do these days some things used to be better in the past. A good example is that overall raw hide and skin quality has deteriorated in the past three decades despite reaching record price levels.


Quality, quality, quality
ILM Editorial - Martin Ricker
Published:  28 October, 2013

Can you think of another industry where the cost of raw materials has virtually doubled in the past few years while the quality of the very same material has deteriorated?


Martin Ricker

Are we all to blame for the mess in Dhaka?
ILM Editorial - Martin Ricker
Published:  20 August, 2013

On April 24, 2013, an eight-story commercial building, Rana Plaza, collapsed in Savar, a sub-district in the Greater Dhaka Area, the capital of Bangladesh. The search for the dead ended on May 13 with the death toll of 1,129. Approximately 2,500 injured people were rescued from the building alive.


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