Thirty participants from the world’s leading tanneries, automotive manufacturers and tier-1 supply companies gathered at Lectra’s Bordeaux-Cestas campus to hear industry experts’ insights on interior design trends, market growth perspectives, leather supply dynamics, and the evolution of chemical treatments for leather.

The unique, organic nature of leather has hindered widespread adoption of automation in the automotive leather industry but, as all of the presenters emphasised, innovation and technology will be vital to keep pace with the industry’s rapid changes.

IHS automotive forecasts showed that sales growth in the premium car segment—where leather is most widely used—is outpacing that of the automotive market as a whole. Leather’s universal appeal, across all car segments, makes it a key component in future styling trends. “Our new challenge is matching quality leather with the creation of effects, like perforation, that require precise cutting,” said Stéphanie Petit, Project Designer at Renault.

Workshops led by Lectra experts demonstrated the range of technology available to help leather professionals achieve this by monitoring leather consumption and hide quality; maximising hide yield; anticipating costs and control margins; and maintaining competitiveness and profitability over the long term.

Gabriela Fuentes, Engineering Manager, Steering Wheels Department at Key Safety Systems Mexico, appreciated the breadth of subjects covered. “The information presented gave us a complete picture of the market’s evolution, from the reasons for demand changes and the effects on leather supply to the chemicals used. Seeing the connections between all these trends was very interesting and beneficial.”

“The time is right for change in the leather industry; the technology is mature enough. But, when change is so profound, the right partnerships are key. I am confident that together, we—car makers, suppliers, tanners and Lectra—will make this change happen,” concluded Céline Choussy Bedouet, Marketing Director for Automotive and Furniture, Lectra.