October 2017 Newsletter

Spotlight on a member - Andrew Muirhead & Sons

Andrew Muirhead & Son, manufacturers of high performance leather, opened its doors to the general public for the annual Glasgow Doors Open Day Festival which takes place every September.

Each year, The Glasgow Doors Open Day Festival encourages buildings of interest around the city to open their doors for a duration in September and has been steadily growing in popularity with local Glaswegians and those from further afar for more than 25 years.

Muirhead first took part 3 years ago to coincide with their 175th anniversary celebrations and they haven’t looked back.

On Saturday 16th September, the company opened its doors to its Dalmarnock Leather Works in the East End of the city and encouraged the public to come and witness best practice manufacturing of modern seating leathers destined for the world’s major airlines and public buildings.

The guided tours began with a welcome speech from Managing Director, Colin Wade, who highlighted the company’s key achievements from when it was founded in 1840 on the banks of the Molindinar, right through to present day success stories. From the industrial belting leather and boot leathers made for the world wars, to focusing on upholstery leathers in the 70’s, and through to some household names that Muirhead now proudly supply to.

After, the groups, of no more than 25, were lead throughout the factory where tour guides stopped at each stage of the manufacturing process allowing the visitors to see first-hand how the company’s low carbon leather is made. The tour guides were on hand to inform the public what was happening at each stage. Feedback from the public was, as in previous years, very positive.

Comments on the company’s Facebook read “Fantastic open day. Great interaction from director level downwards. They trust and responsibility they show in their young employees is an example for everyone. Give them education, trust, confidence and let them shine.''

In total, 250 guests passed through the factory doors.

National Leather Collection - heritage open day

Last month the National Leather Collection opened its doors for the first time as part of the Heritage Open Days weekend. The opening was the culmination of a four year project to bring stories and treasures back to the public, sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Leathersellers Company.

Visitors were able to explore the exhibition representing five millennia of leather-crafting, and get hands on in workshops run by industry professionals. Store tours exposed the ‘backstage’ areas, and explained the inner workings of the museum.

Following the open day, everyone in the museum is working hard to deliver on the promise to return the collection to the public. The National Leather Collection can be found on Floor 2 of the Grosvenor Centre, and is accessible by lift or stairs from the Market Square entrance to the shopping centre.

The National Leather collection would also welcome donations of old machinery to assist with the set up of leathercraft business incubator hubs above the exhibition. In addition, the museum would welcome historical artefacts and library resources to help increase the breadth of the leather collection. Therefore if you happen to be having a clear out, or updating machinery, please contact the NLC to see if they can rehome your unwanted items.

Currently the team are preparing for regular opening in November 2017. At present, the NLC is staffed Monday - Thursday, 10am - 4pm. Please call or email if you would like to visit: 07484066627, philip.warner@nationalleathercollection.org

BLC leather training courses

BLC leather technology conduct a variety of specialist leather training courses in the United Kingdom and overseas, in the United States and Hong Kong. Topics covered include sustainability in the supply chain, chemical compliance and understanding leather. For more information click here

Welcome to a new member - A A Crack & Sons Ltd

Pictured is Anthony and Alan Crack of A A Crack & Sons Ltd, Northampton who have recently joined the UK Leather Federation as an associate member.

A A Crack & Sons ltd are leather suppliers, providing quality wholesale leather for all trades and hold a large variety of finished articles of leather to suit all needs.

For more information visit their website: www.aacrack.com





Nike Flyleather - our response

The latest innovation to be launched by Nike is their ‘Flyleather’ range. While the technology underlying this development is not new – the technology provider, E-Leather has been manufacturing its hydro-entangled product for over 10 years - it is encouraging to see a large corporation seeking to improve the sustainability of their production. However, it is less than satisfactory to see that same corporation misappropriate the label, ‘leather’ and then promote their material with negative and questionable comparisons against leather.

Whatever this material is, it is not leather. The accepted definition, as detailed by the British and European Standards* is unequivocal; leather is ‘…hide or skin with its original fibrous structure more or less intact, tanned to be imputrescible...’. Further, the British Standard states that the term leather ‘should not be used in conjunction with any word to describe a product or material if the product or material does not conform to the definition of leather’. Flyleather is made from leather waste, which is ground to fibres and combined with synthetic fibres. The original fibrous structure, central to the definition of leather, is irreversibly lost. At best, this material is ‘bonded leather fibre’, as defined by the relevant standards, and would probably be more appropriately described as a ground leather and synthetic fibre composite.

Nike also claim that their product uses 90% less water in production, and has a carbon footprint that is 80% lower, than leather. The analysis of environmental footprints is open to interpretation and the detail of their assessment is of great importance. In particular, the setting of system boundaries, the limits within which a footprint is measured, are very important and can lead to significant distortion of the results. The details of the analysis of Flyleather are not available but the figures suggest that Nike has not included the manufacture of the leather, which comprises more than 50% of their product, in the calculation. Equally, no reference is given for the footprint of leather production, which will vary hugely depending on what is or isn’t included in the assessment. As such, any comparisons are highly questionable.

Most importantly, without the manufacture of leather, Flyleather could not be made. That Nike have found a way to reduce the waste from the leather industry, by producing another material, is laudable but leather must first be made for Flyleather to exist. The manufacture of leather is itself, a recycling process, utilising a waste from the meat industry to produce a beautiful, versatile and functional product, and avoiding the disposal of millions of tonnes of hides and skins every year.
The UK leather industry supports innovation that reduces the environmental impact of manufacturing and continues the process of waste reduction started by leather manufacture. However, to appropriate the image of leather and then denigrate real leather for promotional gain, is unacceptable.

*BS 2780:1983, ‘Glossary of Leather terms’.
EN 15987:2015, ‘Leather — Terminology —Key definitions for the leather trade’

Support from the Department for International Trade

Less than 1% of the world’s population live in the UK. So if you’re only selling within the UK borders, you’re missing out on so much. The Department of International Trade (DIT) is committed to ensuring that UK companies are aware of the trading opportunities available to them and that they are helped to access and exploit them. How do they do this? Their support includes the following:
1. International Trade Advisers provide bespoke, free of charge, one-to-one advice on your export strategy, as well as signposting you to DIT services and funding;
2. They have in-house market research and e-commerce experts who are also available to give you free of charge advice;
3. They provide workshops, seminars and webinars on many export related topics;
4. They run ‘Meet the Buyer’ activities – a chance to directly showcase your products and services to individuals responsible for procurement;
5. Their website www.great.gov.uk has lots of export related information as well as live export opportunities posted by colleagues from across the globe. A simple check will tell you how many relate to leather (currently there are 5!)

Call or email: 0207 215 5000 enquiries@trade.gsi.gov.uk. From there you will be directed to your local office who can help you with all of your export enquiries and put you in touch with the right people.


Copyright © UK Leather Federation, 2017 All rights reserved.












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