Interview with Imran Baig

Imran Baig
Imran Baig
Kareema Leather Products
Kareema Leather Products

Leather industry in India is worth up to US$ 90 billion
Cattle slaughter is banned in India, and leather producers have to wait till the time animals die a natural death, which makes leather tanning difficult. Imran Baig, director of Kareema Leather Products, a Chennai-based leather producing company, talks about the challenges facing the leather industry and his remedial measures to resolve them in an interview with Fibre2Fashion.com

What is the size of the global leather industry? What is the percentage pie claimed by India?

The leather industry holds a prominent place in the Indian economy, and is one of the oldest manufacturing industries in India. It occupies a place of prominence in view of its massive potential for employment, growth and exports. There has been an increasing emphasis on its planned development, aimed at optimum utilisation of available raw materials for maximising returns, particularly from exports. The exports of leather and leather products gained momentum during the past two decades. There has been a phenomenal growth in exports from INR 320 million in 1965-66 to INR 69,558 million in 1996-97. The Indian leather industry today has attained well-merited recognition in international markets besides occupying a prominent place among the top seven foreign exchange earners of the country. The current value comes up to about US$ 90 billion. India produces approximately 700 million pairs of leather footwear every year, and accounts for an 18 per cent share of the total Indian leather exports. After footwear manufacturing, leather goods or products, such as wallets, travel wares, belts and handbags offer great returns on investment. Today, the share of the value-added finished products in total exports from the leather sector is 80 per cent as against 20 per cent in 1970s.

What are the issues plaguing this industry in India?

The slaughter of cattle in India is banned by government regulation. Leather producers wait for cattle to die from natural causes such as old age, starvation or diseases. Unfortunately, cattle with diseases cannot produce high quality leather. Cattle that die from natural causes need to be quickly processed to prevent decay and hide deterioration. This makes it challenging for leather producers, because the dead cattle must be processed wherever the carcass is found instead of doing it within a leather production facility. For vegetable-dyed leather, the supply of chrome salts used in leather production is limited in supply. When producers tried to switch to a chemical dye - PCP (pentachlorophenol), it was banned due to the presence of a chemical that was a carcinogen. Apart from this, effluent management, non-tariff barriers, quality specifications and cost of compliance to various standards hinder the export growth of the Indian leather industry.

What are your five-fold steps to deal with these issues?

1. Effluent management 2. Abiding by industry standards as proposed by government 3. Innovation 4. Chrome-free training 5. Solid waste management

What are the trends in leather that are likely to prevail next summer and winter?

The finished leather trends which will prevail next summer and winter are floral prints, animal prints, fancy prints, various fancy colours in suede leather, etc.

How do you deal with the competition?

There are thousands of leather traders all over India. To deal with competition in the current global market, we follow the 3P formula - people, product and process.

What percentage of your revenues is earmarked for R&D?

Two per cent of our revenue is earmarked for R&D.
Published on: 16/09/2015

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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