Last year also, the raw material prices were still rising relentlessly and it was hard to persuade the luxury goods’ trade, from bags to autos, that China was not the country of endless ostentation, continuous growth, and an eternal gold mine. So we come to that famous political statement: “what a difference a week makes”.

Certainly, hide prices have been falling for a while, hence, the discussions on whether having lost market share to competitor materials enough of our leathers offer value to win any of that share back. For all that leather (prices) have going for it this is far from guaranteed since too many tanners carry on making the same standard leathers, and believe the foolish phrase that “good leather sells itself”. Tanners need both product development and strong marketing.

On the other hand, the sudden collapse of the stock market in China, with a government that believed it could manage everything on a command and control basis, has been astonishing and the ramifications will not have been played out by the time the industry caravan arrives in China.

Once more, we have to recognise that, these days, trade fairs offer a vital focal point for gathering to understand the complex and rapidly changing market. The Shanghai hotels will be full of hard working tanners next week. The holiday is certainly over.

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Mike Redwood

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