Colomer 1792: Merging tradition with innovation

Spain
Published:  05 August, 2020

Drawing on over 200 years of history and experience in the tanning industry, Spanish sheepskin specialist Colomer 1792 is a global leader in its marketplace thanks to continued development and investment in R&D.

Established in 1792 in Vic, near Barcelona, Spain, sheepskin specialist Colomer 1792, a division of Colomer Munmany, is one of the longest standing tanneries in the world and deeply entrenched in the rich tanning and leather making tradition of its hometown. The leather industry in the Vic area has its roots in medieval times, with early accounts of leather making going as far back as 1147 and the first guilds documented in 1438. It was at the end of the 18th century when Josep Colomer Costa married Carmen Munmany, whose family came from a long dynasty of tanners, and a year later inherited the tannery and established the Colomer Munmany Group. Their three sons, Andreu, Rafel and Ramon subsequently took over the family firm, with Andreu becoming Managing Director of the business in 1936, growing it into a successful international company which quickly became a leader in fine leather around the world.

Global expansion

When in 1858 chromium salts were first introduced, it marked a turning point for the group and transformed tanning from a finely honed art into a science. At the start of the 20th Century, Manuel Portavella was the first graduate chemist to join the company, becoming Technical Director of Colomer Munmany. He and his team started developing their own technologies and beamhouse processes, as well as specific methodologies such as sulphur tanning to manufacture dry pickle, white tanning for gloving or the usage of sodium silicate for soft-to-the-touch articles - a pioneering and visionary approach at the time, which fuelled Colomer Munmany’s international expansion and reputation for the best Entrefino quality leather for garment and gloving. Nationally, in the 1960s, the Group operated a number of different tanneries such as Baumann, Ciesa and Anonima Lanera, specialising in different leather articles in each one, and leather trading companies such as Curtidos Barcino, Curtidos del Norte and Curtidos del Sur. At the same time, internationally the group also had a stake in       and gave technical assistance to other, well established tanneries, such as Hellenic Tanneries in Greece, Tanneries Libano Espagnoles in Lebanon, Nabegu in Kano, Nettletons & Porters in the UK or Xing Tai in China. By then the group had nearly 1000  workers in Catalonia alone, with a production of more than 50,000 skins per day.

Investment and growth

Another key milestone for the Colomer Group came in 2009 when it was acquired by the world’s largest sheepskin producer, the China headquartered Henan Prosper Group, consolidating both companys’ expertise and lead role in the sheepskin market and paving the way for further expansion and development. Under the new ownership, a series of investments has seen significant upgrades of manufacturing and sales facilities which continue to today. In 2010 a Doubleface production line was established, which was further enhanced with a Nappa production line and fellmongery plant in the same year, followed by a new beamhouse as well as baby calf and goat skin facilities for shoe leather production, which was put in place the following year. In addition, a sourcing wool line was put into production and the Colomer Wool Trade Department was opened in 2011.

Another major investment was the opening of a new state-of-the-art water treatment plant in 2015, the largest wastewater treatment system in the global fur tanning industry with a total area of 166,000 sq m, daily processing capacity of  40 000 tons and with 30% of water being recycled and reused. Meanwhile, 2016 saw the introduction of a Chinese skin production facility as well as further expansion and upgrades to beamhouse operations, and in 2018 a second Fellmongery plant was added. Colomer 1792’s European headquarters in Spain were also bolstered with the official opening of a service centre in Les Masies de Voltrega (Osona).

In 2020, the production systems will be further improved, for instance through new pipelines to additionally reduce the use of fresh water and lower water consumption as the company increasingly focuses on what it calls ‘eco-tannery’, aiming to be a leader in the leather industry on sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Close cooperation with industry partners

With its significant production capabilities and capacities between Henan Prosper and Colomer Munmany, Colomer 1792 is aiming for further expansion. In particular, a key goal is to utilise its European sales centre for increased cooperation with partners across Europe, North Africa, South America and Turkey, providing an even better service to its customers and working together to create bespoke orders. “We invite our customers to visit our showroom, view our facilities and to demonstrate not only the diversity of our products, but also prepare bespoke collections for them. We think that after Covid-19, this kind of close cooperation will be one of the key components of a successful partnership and market recovery”, says Gil Font, Managing Director, Colomer 1792.

*This is an advertorial feature provided by Colomer Munmany Group.

Timeline:

2009: Colomer Munmany acquired by Henan Prosper Group

2010: Doubleface production line put into production, followed by a Nappa production line and Fellmongery plant

2011: New beamhouse officially opened; baby calf and goatskin production for shoe leather launched as well as scouring wool line put into production and Colomer Wool Trade Department established

2015: New water treatment plant launched operation

2016: Chinese skin production line and new and upgraded beamhouse put into production

2018: Fellmongery II plant established

2019: In Catalonia, Spain, a service centre in Les Masies DE Voltrega (Osona) officially opened