We interviewed Sanjay Leekha, Chairman of CLE (Council for Leather Exports) India, to get a closer look at the market situation of what represents a major player in ERS and the global scene.
Regarding your Country's Market: how is the current situation and what are the prospects for the future?
As CLE – Council for Leather Exports, sponsored by Ministry of Commerce & Industry – we represent about 3,000 export-oriented companies. The Indian footwear and leather sector as a whole is worth about $17 billion, out of which exports account for USD 5 billion and domestic sales turnover of USD 12 billion. Though our sector suffered a set back in exports during 2020-21 due to adverse impact of the Pandemic, the exports have since revived considerably, registering 32.35% growth. This growth in export is continuing this year also. Exports have registered more than 25% growth during April – Sept. 2022. We expect this positive trend in exports to continue and reach export value of $6 million during 2022-23.
What are the most interesting markets for your exports right now?
Europe and USA are the major markets for our sector. Exports has shown growth to both these major markets during this year. However, our export growth to USA has been substantial. During 2021-22, our exports to USA registered an export growth of 80%. This year too, the exports to USA have shown about 40% growth. Europe and USA will continue to be our thrust markets and our objective is to further enhance our trade with these markets.
Let's talk about logistics in India…
After the pandemic years, when the logistics system collapsed, the situation today is improving, transportation and delivery times have reduced, and I think we can get back to a normal level within five or six months.
What products and trends are working best in your opinion?
Traditionally, exports from India have been mainly about leather and traditional footwear, and the pandemic has had a strong negative impact, favoring more sports and synthetic footwear. Today the general orientation is toward more casual but also very comfortable footwear.
The world market is now moving toward green and more sustainable footwear. Do you think this trend may have a negative impact on leather footwear, which is the type of footwear that traditionally characterizes Indian exports?
I think the market cyclically moves toward leather or synthetic. Moreover, it should be considered that leather is an absolutely natural and sustainable material, more sustainable than other seemingly 'green' materials. Undoubtedly, however, there has been a strong push toward synthetic, so much so that several Indian companies have been gradually adding synthetic in their production, but in my opinion synthetic will never completely replace leather, as both have different characteristics.
What is the main reason why you decided to participate in Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags? What are your expectations?
Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags is a very important fair for Indian companies that want to work with the foreign market, and this explains why we have been taking part as CLE in this event for about 20 years. We have 34 companies taking part in the January 2023 edition with our organization, representing the best of our country's production.
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