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Quite a porker

On September 25 the shareholders of US pork producer Smithfield Foods approved a takeover by the Chinese firm Shuanghui International for a cash sum of $4.7 billion. If you add in the debt that Smithfield holds the actual price is nearer $7 billion. News like this slides passed us as tanners as we consider this to be outside our remit. Meat, especially pig, does not appear relevant these days. We have hide prices to concern ourselves with.

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Paris in September

Paris in September has always been a ritual. But the Paris in September that characterised the leather industry of the 20th century is long gone. Remember the days of excess with huge stands, and even more expensive parties of senior executives. Port de Versailles was the autumn break in Paris fair a rich and wealthy industry. 

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Rising auto sales to complicate leather sector?

Underlying buoyancy in the US economy is being reflected in rising auto sales as consumer confidence returns. Buying a car is a big ticket item and new vehicle sales are on the up. Auto sector analysts are now forecasting total US car sales will reach 16.1 million units this year compared to the previous forecast of 15.8 million.

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Dark Satanic Mills

In London last week I visited the famous Tate Britain Art Gallery to view an exhibition of paintings by LS Lowry. Lowry lived from 1887 until 1976 and devoted his life to painting the England of the Industrial Revolution. For forty years he mostly painted the urban landscape of Lancashire in northern England, particularly around Manchester and Salford. 

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The evolving tastes of Chinese consumers

Some people say that the 2000-2001 energy crisis in California was caused by MBAs. Highly qualified, highly paid business managers who had no clue about the technologies and engineering that underpinned the power that they were trading and re-trading. I hold the same view with marketing people who have done business degrees and then do a masters in marketing but never learn the nuts and bolts of the industries they work in. If marketing is to begin deep inside the business in the development of products and services that actually meet the needs of consumers then a marketer needs more than just marketing skills. 

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In at the deep end

Taking the plunge into the unknown is always a risk. When Bill Gates founded Microsoft or Steve Jobs co-founded Apple, it was a leap of faith and they believed that what they were doing would be successful. For them, it certainly turned out to be the right product at the right time.

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Location theory in the leather industry

If you want to understand why tanneries locate and relocate you have to read a book written in 1937. Hoover's "Location of the New England leather and footwear industry" is often mentioned as the seminal work that started off the management science of economic geography. Certainly it is an excellent piece of work. 

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The pain in Spain

As I head back from a mini holiday in Spain. Like so many people I’m drawn by the sun, sand, gastronomy and general quality of life many Spaniards still enjoy today despite the recent economic hardship.

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Old stock, dead machines and redundant chemicals

Back to work after the summer break (well in Europe anyway)? Maybe time, to take the time, to walk around the plant and take a fresh look at the site. There are always areas or items that are too hard to handle or just put off for another day?

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The speed of change – the PC 16

The December 5 2004 is a date that is ingrained in the minds of all those involved in global sourcing. It was the moment BusinessWeek published a momentous article entitled “The China Price” which made the point that companies like WalMart were demanding all their suppliers matched the prices then available from highly efficient Chinese manufacturers. 

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