REGIONAL integration and local value addition are the keys to expansion of Zambia’s leather sector.
This is according to experts from the footwear industry who visited Zambeef’s Zamleather division in Lusaka at the weekend.
The strategy was discussed as delegates from the Southern African Footwear and Leather Export Council (SAFLEC) toured the factory to learn more about Zambeef’s drive to build the local and regional footwear industry and encourage people to buy locally manufactured shoes and other leather goods.
“We’re keen to see growth within the leather industry and by adding value to our raw materials we will be able to compete better here and in the region. This is why trade exchange programmes like these are important and there is a lot we can learn from each other in order to better strengthen the sector,” said Zamleather general manager Richard Franklin.
“Zambia’s leather industry is still in the early stages of resurgence, and working with counterparts in the region would be an added advantage when it comes to sourcing duty-free value addition components such as labels, laminates and soles within the SADC region,” he said
Zamleather, one of Zambia’s largest operating tanneries, manufactures leather products such as wet blue hides, protective clothing, industrial footwear and consumer footwear under the Zamshu brand.
The Kaleza Z-12 model leather football boots were also one of the products from Zamleather and unique in that they were not only manufactured in Zambia but were also designed locally, a first for Zambia.
Zamshu produced around 600 pairs of shoes per day and also exported leather to regional and international markets.
The Zambeef division processed 6,000 hides per month at the Lusaka tannery and a further 2,000 per month under contract at Kembe.
There were plans to expand the facilities to process 10,000 hides per month for from beginning of 2016.
“The local leather industry has barely scratched the surface with products like consumer shoes, handbags and belts still untapped. The market has so far responded positively to our Zamshu products and we have since doubled production of our shoes in the division.
“Our safety shoes and boots have been particularly popular, and this is a good sign that there is demand for locally produced leather products, which are manufactured to world class standards. It is definitely an exciting time for the industry and we look forward to seeing how the leather sector evolves over the coming years and we hope to be the ones leading the way,” said Mr Franklin.
The SAFLEC group, who are in Zambia for the SA Footwear and Leather Zambian Expo 2015, toured the Zamleather tannery and shoe factory in a bid to understand the structure of the leather industry in Zambia and identify opportunities.
And SAFLEC chairperson Sanjay Pattundeen said: “We are impressed with the quality and precision of the work being done here. Clearly there is vast potential for growth in this market.
“South Africa has only in recent years become competitive in the sector and Zambia is one of the main export destinations for our shoes and other leather products. We see Zambia heading the same way with dedicated investors and appropriate reforms in the industry,”
The SAFLEC group comprised buyers and sellers, representatives from the South African Department of Trade and Industry as well as South African Footwear and Leather Export Council executives.