Footwear and leather fair on the ramp

Tuesday, 8 January 2013 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Organised by the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) together with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Industrial Development Board and the Sri Lanka Footwear and Leather Products Manufacturers Association, the fair provides a platform to showcase the talents and capabilities of the Sri Lankan footwear and leather products manufacturers.

Footwear which was originated to protect feet from, rough surfaces and bad weather has gradually become a clothing accessory, where design and fashion plays a significant role.

Despite mechanisation the footwear industry is still labour intensive, it is said that 150 operations are necessary to produce a pair of shoes. Shoes have and will forever be an integral part of our ability to express our fashion sense and individuality.

The fair originated with the initiative of the EDB in the year 2007, and being the objective recognising the industry locally and internationally, is now becoming a recognised international fair in the South Asian Region.

This fair provides an opportunity to view the entire range of footwear and leather products manufactured in Sri Lanka under one roof. The EDB has identified footwear and leather industry, as an industry which could significantly contribute to the national economy.

“Therefore, building a good image of the industry globally, as a quality manufacturer of footwear and leather goods, is very important in attracting traders to the country” said EDB Chairman and Chief Executive Janaka Ratnayake. Further, he said that this fair will also provide a platform for the Sri Lankan manufacturers, to showcase their talents to the world. The awareness of this fair is steadily increasing in attracting international buyers to the country, which will benefit the local manufacturers said he said.

This years’ fair will have 250 stalls exhibiting footwear, leather products, travel goods, and related raw material, components and accessories. A Design Competition has been organised to encourage the young and upcoming designers and give recognition to them.

An Exclusive fashion show dedicated for footwear and leather products with top Sri Lankan models will be held as a special event of the fair.

A wide publicity campaign also has been launched internationally. Leading international footwear and leather magazines such as Leather Age and Indian Leather have already published advertisements of this fair.  Most of the international websites already carries information of the fair. The EDB with the assistance of Sri Lanka missions overseas, has invited buyer delegations from EU and other regions to visit the fair. Local as well as foreign suppliers of raw material components and accessories will also take part.

The footwear industry alone at present employs about 20,000 staffers directly and indirectly. There are about 10 large scale manufacturers/exporters, 30 medium scale companies and about 3,000 small scale manufacturers.

Diverse range of modern shoes like canvass and rubber boots, thongs, sports shoes, leather shoes and many more are produced, using a variety of raw materials. The country’s total production capacity could be estimated to be in the range of 20-30 million pairs per year.  This figure excludes the supply capacity for rubber thongs which by itself is estimated to be 27-30 million pairs per year


 Apart from the manufacturing proceeds

In the case of leather industry, apart from manufacturing processed leather products, the industry includes manufacture of small leather goods such as gloves, wallets, bags, purses, belts, key tags.

There are about five large scale manufactures/exporters and around 1,000 small timers. There are around 11 tanneries producing 25 tons of leather per day.

Recognising the importance of this industry, the Government has offered several concessions. Duty free import of raw material, components and accessories and machinery is one such concession.  As there is a scarcity of local leather in the country, an export tax has been imposed on export of raw hides and skins. Further, the Government has imposed an import tax to control the influx of imported shoes, in the local market.  These moves have created a significant growth in the local industry. However, as the local market is quite small, further development of the industry depends on exports. Thereby, in view of increasing the share of exports of the footwear and leather industry the EDB have organised several integrated programs to strengthen the local manufacturers to face the challenges of the international market.  EDB organised a market exposure/business development program recently in Italy, the major market for Sri Lankan footwear. Further several technical exposure/productivity improvement programs were organised in China, world’s largest manufacturer and exporter of footwear to upgrade the technical skills and the productivity improvement of the manufacturers.

Most of the raw material components and accessories for the industry are imported duty free and out sourced from India, China and Thailand. Supporting industries such as components and accessories are now being made locally, which will contribute to the competitiveness of Sri Lankan products.

In time to come it is envisaged that Sri Lanka footwear will go hand in hand with its  famous apparel industry.