Tannery of the Year

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Tannery of the Year is an awards programme for the global tanning industry, launched in 2009 to celebrate the production of leather and to help promote the material’s use throughout the world in footwear, furniture, car and aeroplane interiors, handbags and other accessories, gloves and other applications.

The programme will honour 10 tanneries in five regions in its first year.


The awards idea represents a response to the call from the International Leather Forum, an industry gathering that took place in Paris in September 2007,[1] for companies in every part of the industry to speak up for leather, to celebrate its beauty and usefulness, its history and its future.

With the focus on corporate social responsibility, the Tannery of the Year programme will identify the two best tanneries in China, the rest of Asia, the Americas, Africa and Europe.

Finalists for 2009

The finalists are as follows:

Europe — Bridge of Weir Leather Company Limited, Renfrewshire, Scotland,[2] and Josef Heinen GmbH & Co KG, Wegberg, Germany.[3]

Africa — Pittards Ethiopia Tannery Share Company, Nazaret, Ethiopia, and South Cape Ostrich Tanning Limited, Mossel Bay, South Africa.

China — ISA TanTec, Guangzhou,[4] and Simona Tanning, Huizhou, both in Guangdong Province.

Americas — Curtiembres Fonseca, Lanús, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Procesos Húmedos de León, León, Guanajuato, Mexico.

Asia excluding China — PrimeAsia Vietnam[5] in Bà Rịa, Vũng Tàu, Vietnam, and the Tata International tannery in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, India.

An inaugural awards dinner will take place in Hong Kong on March 29, 2010, at which the winner for each region and one global winner will be announced.

The idea behind the Tannery of the Year programme came from World Trades Publishing, a business-to-business publishing company based in Liverpool, United Kingdom, which publishes a leather industry trade magazine called World Leather.[6]

Result for Tannery of the Year 2009

On March 29, 2010, in Hong Kong, the Ethiopia Tannery Share Company emerged as the winner of the regional competition for Africa, and later as the overall global Tannery of the Year.

The tannery, close to the village of Ejersa, is now owned by the Pittards tanning group. It took over ownership of the company in December 2009, having run it as a partner of previous owners, the Ethiopian government, since 2005.

Accepting the global award, managing director, John Moriarty, said:

“I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of all the people who work at the tannery. I hoped we might win the regional award for Africa, but I didn't dare dream that we might win the global award.”

He said he thought the tannery’s commitment to its people, to the rural community that lives near the site, and to working towards top-class environmental practice had been the main reasons for the judges’ choice. He went on to say that he believed the Tannery of the Year programme was an excellent platform for the whole of the leather industry to tell its positive success stories, and that more tanneries should take part if given the chance.

The five regional award winners were:

  • Africa—Ethiopia Tannery Share Company
  • Americas—Curtiembres Fonseca, Argentina
  • Asia excluding China—PrimeAsia[7] Vietnam[8]
  • China—Simona Tanning
  • Europe—Bridge of Weir Leather Company, Scotland.

Tannery of the Year 2011

A second round of the Tannery of the Year competition ran from the start of November 2010 until the Gala Final event in Shanghai on September 6, 2011. Organisers World Leather have worked out that the Awards programme will work best on 18-month cycles. The third programme will start in early 2012 and come to a conclusion in Hong Kong in March 2013.

Tannery of the Year 2011 Finalists

Ten finalist tanneries gathered in Shanghai on Tuesday, September 6, 2011 to make presentations to a panel of four judges and answer questions.[9] The judges also have available eight-page reports on each of the ten tanneries, published in World Leather magazine between December 2010 and August 2011. The ten finalists stood out from longer candidate lists because of their commitment to the six principles underpinning the competition: commitment to innovation, to environmental best practice, to their workers, to the communities with which they share resources, to maintaining strong relationships with suppliers and customers and to financial sustainability. Each of the ten also demonstrated clear support for Tannery of the Year’s objectives of opening the leather industry up to greater public accountability and of presenting a platform for sharing positive examples of the work that many leather-producing companies around the world are engaged in to improve the industry’s image.

The finalists for Tannery of the Year 2011 are as follows.

  • Africa - Elico, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Nakara, Windhoek, Namibia.
  • Americas - Artículos de Piel Los Favoritos (B’Leather), Santiago, the Dominican Republic; and Coming Indústria e Comércio de Couros, Trindade, Goiás, Brazil.[10]
  • Asia excluding China - PT Budi Makmur Jayamurni, Yogyakarta, Indonesia;[11] and TehChang Leather Products Co Ltd, Ta Yuan, Taiwan.
  • China - Gansu Hongliang Leather Limited, Gansu Province; and Xing Ye Leather Technology Company, Fujian Province.
  • Europe - Heller-Leder, Hehlen, Germany;[12] and Hulshof Royal Dutch Tanneries, Lichtenvoorde, the Netherlands.

Tannery of the Year 2011 Winners

At the final in Shanghai on September 6, 2011, the following tanneries won the regional awards.

  • Africa - Nakara, Namibia.
  • Americas - Coming Indústria e Comércio de Couros, Brazil.
  • Asia excluding China - TehChang Leather Products Co Ltd, Taiwan.
  • China - Xing Ye Leather Technology Company, Fujian Province.
  • Europe - Heller-Leder, Germany.

From these five regional winners, Heller-Leder from Germany was named as the global Tannery of the Year for 2011.

Tannery of the Year 2013

The third programme of Tannery of the Year began in May 2012, with candidates and finalists already named for two of the five regions, Europe and the Americas.

All Tanneries of the Year are 100% committed to corporate social responsibility, working as hard as they can to help the communities with which they share energy, water and other resources and making the least impact they possibly can on the environment. They are also sound businesses and operate on a stable and sustainable financial platform. They are all wonderful examples of best practice in the leather industry, which the whole industry will be invited to celebrate at the third Tannery of the Year Grand Final in Hong Kong in March 2013.

The list of nine shortlisted tanneries from Europe, from which two finalists for the third programme have come were (in alphabetical order):

  • António Nunes de Carvalho, Alcanena, Portugal
  • Bader, Göppingen, Germany
  • Conceria Montebello, Montebello, Italy
  • Gruppo Dani, Arzignano, Italy
  • Industrias del Curtido SA (Incusa), Silla, Valencia, Spain
  • Marmara Deri, Corlu, Turkey
  • Sepici Grubu, Caybasi-Izmir, Turkey
  • W.J & W Lang, Paisley, Scotland
  • Wollsdorf Leder, Wollsdorf, Austria.

From these, Gruppo Dani and Sepici Grubu emerged as finalists, with detailed reports on each published in the June–July issue of World Leather.

After Europe, the programme moved to the Americas. The list of candidates there contained the names of eleven excellent leather producers in a range of countries throughout the Americas, from which two finalists emerged to compete in the final.

The shortlisted tanneries were, in alphabetical order:

  • Arlei, Las Toscas, Santa Fe, Argentina
  • Curtume Fridolino Ritter, Picada Café, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Curtume Viposa, Caçador, Santa Catarina, Brazil
  • Fuga Couros, Jales, São Paulo, Brazil
  • JBS Couros, Cascavel, Ceará, Brazil
  • Lefarc, León, Mexico
  • Sadesa, San Luis, Argentina
  • SB Foot, Red Wing, Minnesota, US
  • Suelas Wyny, León, Mexico
  • Tenería Panamericana, León, Mexico
  • Tyson Group, Dakota City, Nebraska, US.

From this list the two finalist tanneries for the Americas this time were:

- Lefarc, León, Mexico, and - SB Foot, Red Wing, Minnesota, US.

In-depth reports on the work of both tanneries appeared in the August–September 2012 issue of World Leather and both went forward to take part in the final.

After the Americas, the attention of Tannery of the Year turned to China, followed by Africa and then the fifth of the regions, Asia excluding China, at the start of 2013. Finalists for China were PrimeAsia Leather Corporation, Huangjiang, Guangdong province, and Xuzhou Nanhai Leather Factory Company Limited, Suining County, Jiangsu province. Owing to an unsettled situation in important tanning regions, particularly in North Africa, in 2012 and 2013, there was only one finalist for Africa in the third programme, Seton AutoLeather, South Africa. For Asia excluding China, the finalists were Midori Hokuyo, Japan, and Royal Leather Industries, Pakistan.[13]

Tannery of the Year 2013 Winners

The final of the third programme took place in Hong Kong on March 25, 2013. The following tanneries emerged as regional winners.

  • Africa - Seton AutoLeather, South Africa.
  • Americas - SB Foot, Red Wing, Minnesota, US.[14]
  • Asia excluding China - Midori Hokuyo, Japan.
  • China - PrimeAsia China.
  • Europe - Sepici Grubu, Turkey.[15]

From these five regional winners, PrimeAsia China [16] was named as the global Tannery of the Year for 2013.

Tannery of the Year 2014

The fourth programme of Tannery of the Year began at the end of calendar year 2013, with Europe the first region to come under scrutiny. From eleven shortlisted European tanneries, two emerged as finalists: Couro Azul, Alcanena, Portugal and Wollsdorf Leather, Wollsdorf, Austria. Detailed reports on both these tanneries featured in the December 2013–January 2014 edition of World Leather magazine.

When the programme moved to Asia, excluding China, in the early part of 2014, Packer Leather, from Narangba, Queensland, Australia, and Saigon Tan Tec, Binh Duong Province, Vietnam, emerged as the two finalists for this region. Reports on both tanneries appeared in World Leather, February–March, 2014.

Finalists for the third region, the Americas, were announced on April 24, 2014, with the two tanneries to feature being Bojos Tanning, Santiago, Dominican Republic, and JBS Couros, Itumbiara, Goiás, Brazil. Reports on these two finalists will appear in the April–May, 2014 issue of World Leather.

For China, the finalists for the fourth Tannery of the Year programme were announced on July 3, 2014 as Henan Prosper, Mengzhou City, Henan Province, and Zhejiang Mingxin Automotive Leather, Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province.

There was only one finalist for Africa: Dire Tannery, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The final for the fourth programme took place in Shanghai on September 3, 2014. Regional winners were: Africa - Dire Tannery, Ethiopia; Americas - Bojos Tanning, the Dominican Republic; Asia excluding China - Saigon Tan Tec, Vietnam; China - Mingxin Leather, Zhejiang Province; and Europe - Wollsdorf Leather, Austria.

Following this, the judges announced Wollsdorf Leather from Austria as the fourth winner of the Global Tannery of the Year award.[17] On accepting the award, Wollsdorf chief executive, Andreas Kindermann, said: “We always say that we are not a cheap producer of leather, but we always try to make the best product we can. This means we focus on innovation, technology and the environment. Our customers understand that and that’s why they source from us.”

World Leather magazine runs Tannery of the Year with important backing from the APLF exhibition, chemical manufacturers BASF, Buckman and Lanxess, the International Council of Tanners, the International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.


See also