Well known and respected in the global leather industry, Dr Sykes achieved a first-class degree in chemistry from the Leeds University, UK, and spent the early part of his career in Africa, where he headed the leather section for Leather Industrial Research Institute (LIRI) at the Rhodes University in South Africa. Back to the UK in 1960, he led the science department of the Leathersellers’ College, before joining the British Leather Manufacturers Research Association (BLMRA). In 1972, he received the first Queens Award to Industry for an environmental topic, for a research on the removal of sulphides from process effluents.

From 1967 to 1984, he directed the BLMRA, which was then merged with the British Leather Federation to form the British Leather Confederation (BLC). He was appointed Chief Executive of BLC, where he remained until his retirement in 1992. He also played a significant role in the International Council of Tanners (ICT), where he was a vocal critic of export restrictions on raw materials and was President of the International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemist Societies (IULTCS), from 1984 to 1987. Despite his retirement, he continued to serve the industry and collaborated with Cotance and UNIDO’s Leather Panel. In 2007, Dr Sykes won the first IULTCS Merit Award for Excellence in the Leather Industry.

His funeral is to take place in London on October 25.