A very positive and historic turning-point – UNIC meetingThe annual UNIC - National Union of the Tanning Industry meeting marked a decisive break away from the management style of the past 20 years, opening up excellent work prospects for the entire segment, despite the fact the economic situation is still uncertai

Jul 23, 2016
Posted in: , Market News

The annual UNIC – National Union of the Tanning Industry meeting marked a decisive break away from the management style of the past 20 years, opening up excellent work prospects for the entire segment, despite the fact the economic situation is still uncertain.

The Annual UNIC (National Union of the Tanning Industry) assembly was held at Palazzo delle Stelline, in Milan, on the 28th of June. Italian tanneries took stock of a complicated 2015, but it is facing these issues with such dynamism that it has enabled them to close the year with a slight and generalised downturn. «This moment is not an easy one; the slowdown was and is still being felt. The hope is that 2016 will at least close at the same level as 2015», said UNIC Chairman, Gianni Russo, Knight of the Order of Merit for Labour and MD of Gruppo Russo di Casandrino, underlining a strong desire for change: «We have resumed a transparent and constructive dialogue with all the public and private representatives – be they industry partners or otherwise –, while respecting reciprocal autonomy. We are adding a new dimension to the association’s activities, in which the figure of the entrepreneur will remerge, to provide all the Italian tanneries, be they associates or non-associates, the very best service and the feeling that they are protected».

Sustainability Enormous attention to sustainability, which «Must continually become the glue that holds the association and its companies together, it is a value that is an intrinsic part of our DNA», and the implementation of a client relationship management process, particularly with regard to CleAR project development, a table that deals with the management of the analysis of leathers, which involves the most important luxury brands, with the objective of creating a common blueprint to define a protocol of valid regulations for everyone involved, «limiting an arbitrariness on behalf of the laboratories».

Lineapelle will be given back to the tanneries During the assembly, it was announced that Lineapelle, unquestionably the leading event in the international leather sector, will return under the full control of the Italian tanneries: the dispute with BolognaFiere will soon be solved. Furthermore, the next show will be a record one, with a strong increase in exhibitors and the exhibition surface area. Signage will be improved; the trend areas will be inside the exhibition hall, and there will be a big push to attract incoming buyers and journalists. Of the other tradeshows under the Lineapelle label, only the London and New York events will continue.

Sector figures Reaffirming Italy as an international leader in leather (65% of European production, 19% of world production, with purchases of raw and semi-processed materials from 199 countries and exports of processed leather to 122 different markets), the figures presented at the assembly revealed a production decrease of approximately -2%, compared to 2014. Production value totalled 5.2 billion Euro, volumes were equivalent to 124 million square meters of finished leathers and 26-thousand tons of leather for soles, and the export balance totalled 77% of the national turnover (for a total of 4 billion Euro). However, Italian tanneries are facing a crisis on many fronts: from a slowdown in the luxury sector to the negative influence of the terrorist threat on consumption. Not least, and an element which still needs to be evaluated, is also the effect of Brexit. Among the principal importers, there was a 9% decline in China, which still remains the principal overseas destination, making up 16% of Italian exports. France (+5%), the United States (+13%) and South Korea (+8%) are on the rise, while Germany and Spain have seen a fall in value. This reconfirms that Italian tanneries are a leader in the sector, seeing as they cover 65% of European production, followed by Spain (9%) and France (5%) In Europe, Italy possesses 78% of the tanneries, has 52% of the sector operators, and manufactures 19% of world production. «Aware of its weight, for some time now, the Italian tanning industry has been focusing on quality and innovation – said Russo. We invest from 4 to 5% of our profits in research and development (approximately 250 million Euro); there are over 1.200 sector operators (equivalent to 6,7% of the employees in the sector), which in 2015 was estimated to be 17.824 units, a figure that has not substantially changed compared to 2014».

Prospects and Commitments UNIC will focus its efforts on these commitments:

  • Request that investments in research and development are supported by a long-term fiscal policy. Tax credits must be increased, overtaking incremental logic, and the super amortization schedule should be renewed beyond the 2016 expiry date.
  • Improve interaction with the Stazione Sperimentale Pelli di Napoli (Experimental Leather Station of Naples), all the technical institutions, public and private, and the national and territorial research bodies, to optimise activities, compare results and avoid any potential overlaps in initiatives.
  • Strongly promote the Sustainability Report, which has been compiled for more than 14 years.
  • Keep a close eye on customs regulations in a number of countries, such as China, Japan and the USA, which are running a very real risk of adopting increasingly lower restrictions on a variety of substances, be they legally regulated or not.
  • Improved management of industrial relations in the sector, in which there seems to be an increasing tendency towards employee welfare. The objective is to make the future more secure, and make responsibility and professional and cultural training easier.
  • Promote leather culture among the younger generations (for example, the sponsorship of the Milano Moda Graduate event).
  • Create a Legal Department for the association.
  • Resume contact with Cotance. Rino Mastrotto will be representing Italy at the Consiglio Internazionale dei Conciatori (International Tannery Council).

No more isolation Chairman, Gianni Russo, closed the session with a strong call to maintain the unity of the sector: «We no longer want to be a sector of soloists, we want to become an orchestra and create greater industrial awareness».

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