Kolkata leather units’ global reach

On a trip to Rome, Tridib, an MBA graduate from Kolkata, bought a branded leather belt. The sales personnel at the shop asked Tridib if he was from the eastern part of India. “You have chosen the best belt in the medium price range, and it is from Kolkata,” the sales person said, much to Tridib’s surprise. He went on to tell Tridib how a number of leather goods manufacturers from Kolkata supply to several popular Italian brands.

For decades now, leather items from the city — ranging from bags to fashion accessories — have established a good reputation in the global market for consistent quality and competitive prices. Statistics suggest that half of the Indian finished leather item exports are from the units in and around the city.

Ramesh Juneja, Regional Chairman (East) of Council for Leather Exports, told Business Line that more than 600-odd firms from the city have earned a place in the hard currency export markets.

“Apart from leather bags, purse and accessories, gloves for industrial use and leather garments are also substantially exported from Kolkata,” said Juneja.

In the April-January period of the current financial year, the share of the Eastern region, primarily from the Kolkata units, in export of leather goods was 50 per cent of the country’s total. According to the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, in the 10-month period until January-end, these leather goods units recorded exports worth ₹3,606 crore.

“Though there has been an overall decline of 10.71 per cent in export of leather goods from the country, the eastern region has kept the fall in exports (from the previous fiscal) at the minimal level of 4.85 per cent,” Juneja, who runs an leather goods export unit, explained.

Global brands
A large number of the leather goods units in and around Kolkata are associated with global brands. Industry sources say that many of them supply to Gucci, Pierre Cardin, Guy Lorche, La Martina, Le Tanneur, Radley, Prada, Delsy, Armani, Samsonite, Marks & Spencer.

The units not only have modern processing and manufacturing facilities, they have honed their skill in craftsmanship and designing to suit the style in vogue, mood and the need. A few of the independent units employ market analysts and designers to translate market-driven concept into practices on their own.

An independent unit (without specific supply contract) said it develops products after conducting a detailed market research with the help of cues from the forecasting made by the Leather Council. The designs are often developed through CAD followed by the patterns that are prepared digitally.

Torero Corporation Pvt Ltd, a Kolkata-based company, has taken the global brand association model of business to a new height.

It obtained global licence from AT Cross Company, an iconic writing instrument maker of the US, for leather goods. This global marketing licence holder for cross branded leather items, manufactures leather items such as wallets, bags, belts and cases for mobiles, laptops and iPads for Cross. The items are produced from finished Spanish leather, imported from a Cross approved unit in Spain.

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