APLF exceeds expectations21 May 2002
A measure of how much business was or was not done at the APLF in Hong Kong depended very much on whom you were talking to. There is no doubt that there were a number of happy exhibitors who not only saw existing customers but also welcomed new and potential customers to their stand. Nigel Dobson of Astley Leathers, New Zealand, said: 'It is probably the best fair we have experienced since we started.' On the down side, a number of tanners from less price competitive countries found that while business is generally booming in the Far East, there is a resistance to paying the price for quality leathers produced in high cost countries. Certainly, people reported an increased interest from Chinese and Korean buyers. There was a definite buzz on the first two days of the show which leads one to believe that the holding of parts one and two of the show with a crossover, boosted attendance at the raw materials event as visitors took in both shows and exhibitors at the fashion and finished show were able to visit the tanners at the close of their own event. According the unaudited figures released by exhibition organisers, Fashion & Finished Products, held from April 8-10, posted an increase of over 4,500 buyers to bring the total to over 15,000 buyers - on first time single registered figures and not factoring in re-entries (a 41% increase year-on-year). Raw Materials & Manufacturing, from April 9-12, was up by over 4,700 to over 18,000, again first time registered buyers (a 28% increase year-on-year). In particular, there were significant increases in the number of buyers from mainland China (+90% for Fashion & Finished Products and 61% for Raw Materials and Manufacturing due to the relaxation of visa restrictions to Hong Kong); Japan (+ 47% for Fashion & Finished Products), Taiwan, Korea, Australia and the USA. Doo Soo Kim, BASF Singapore, said the first day of the fair was definitely busier than last year. He said that his company do not come to sell directly but feel it is essential to exhibit: 'Keeping a certain contact point is very cimportant. We can initiate work with our existing ustomers who are one good reason for continuing to exhibit.' Vilai Koosontrakool, manager, Thai Tanning Industry Association, told Leather International that the show had been more fruitful for her exhibitors this year compared with 2001. 'We have a higher number of tanneries at the show this year covering footwear, leathergoods and upholstery leather makers', she said. A total of 30 tanners exhibited in the Thai pavilion. 'The market in Thailand is so-so at the moment and we are looking to the APLF to increase sales. 'We are also using the fair to speak with our raw materials suppliers as the prices of hides are becoming too high again', she added. Hall 3, which included the machinery and chemical companies, was noticeably smaller this year.