Stands, services, bars restaurants and everything around it could hardly be improved. The place is huge and easily accessible (except for people with limited mobility like me who have a mile to walk from subway to get to the first hall). There were other halls for machinery, components, synthetics, chemicals, etc but it is hard to believe the three days were enough for somebody to pass by them all. This fair is an absolute must for everybody in the trade.

As usual we saw the classic pattern of fewer people the first and last day and all counting on the second day, the one in the middle. But I write fewer not few because the first day was not that bad either. Some people say there were not many visitors in general but I doubt that to be honest. The place is huge, spread over a large area, many stands were big and the corridors were wide. I would say the crowd looked more diluted because of this but it was definitely there. Even though the show was busy the atmosphere in the halls remained calm and relaxed which is a positive factor.

We should also not forget that this was the spring/summer season event and the autumn edition has always been traditionally much busier.

I will not try and say how much business was done. There are always some people able to do so but not me. I am very curious to know how they find out.

Across the different leather sectors the automotive market remains the most healthy. Its long-term contracts and margin possibilities continue to make it an attractive option for tanners. New entrants are trying to work their way into this sector. The leather goods leather tanners are doing OK though less than previously. The footwear and furniture sectors remain problematic especially in the medium quality bulk business where competition with low cost countries is strongest. But also here some are very successful. 

As always there were people who were happy with their business and others who complained there was nothing to do. That’s nothing new. The finished leather buyers are the ones who can make or break the trade and they did not make it any easier. Most keep pushing to pay less for leather. There are tanners who can handle that (innovation, fashion, productivity), others who cannot but are willing to sacrifice and others again who found themselves out of the game. Some of the tanners who were waiting for delayed orders did finally and at the last moment for the season, get them at the fair, others are still waiting. 

In short prices are the big problem, not work. Generally, we did not see raw materials markets come down. Nor rise. This hardly ever happens at fairs any more. It is all about looking, listening and feeling and talking. The true market situation will come to surface once things have settled down and we hope that it will be before the Hong Kong fair (March 30 – April 1) fever starts to bend hopes and expectations as it always does. 

It became clear at Lineapelle that there is always business for the very best qualities but as usual there is not too much of that around. The fair also showed that even the top quality material cannot just fetch any price. Buyers are critical for everything.   

As far as Italy is concerned it showed that Russia remains a big headache for the Italian shoe makers for who Russia is major market.  

I would be very happy to hear any readers experience of the fair last week.

Ron Sauer

Publication and Copyright of “The Ron Sauer Blog” remains with the publishers of International Leather Maker. The articles cannot be reproduced in anyway without the express permission of the publisher.