Figures from the UK leather industry show exports fell 15% in value and 12% in volume in 2018 in what Leather UK describes as “a difficult year”. The value of raw material exports fell 22% compared with 2017, while the volume fell 13%, reflecting a decline in selling prices. This is in line with the rest of the world. Exports of finished leather were down 10% in value but up 8.1% in volume, reflecting the falling prices for leather. Chamois leather exports fell 13.8% in value and 21.6% in volume, suggesting that while overall sales had fallen, prices had been maintained or improved. “For the UK market specifically, the uncertainties around Brexit will undoubtedly have had an impact on certain sectors but would have been only one of the reasons for the negative results compared to 2017,” said the association.

Italy and China remained the key markets for raw material exports, accounting for 75% of the total. Exports to Italy increased by 5% and those to China fell by 6% compared with 2017. Turkey moved into the top five export destinations as exports of sheepskin rose by 91% in value and 127% in volume. The UK leather industry is comprised of producers of automotive, upholstery, shoe upper and sole, gloving, chamois, equestrian leather and wet blue leather.