Conceria Incas

19 May 2005

Conceria Incas started out in Santa Croce but moved to Castelfranco di Sotto in 1983. Their impressive tannery has its own effluent treatment plant and they have doubled in size since the move to Castelfranco. They are one of the few to feature their own effluent treatment. The 8,000 sq m extension to the 11,000 sq m existing tannery was only inaugurated in September 2004. This enables them to produce 1,200,000 sq ft/month of a wide range of leathers. Their best seller is a classic calf shoe upper leather in a range of colours. They say their most requested article is aniline calf. Leathers are chrome and veg tanned but the majority of leathers are a mixture of the two. They choose to carry out their own effluent treatment as a way of managing the cost since they pay less to discharge to the Castelfranco plant once the wastewater has been treated. They plan to extend the effluent treatment plant as the more they do themselves the less they have to pay to the municipal works. In 1997 the Rosati Group split and the Rosati and Rovini families retain ownership of Incas through brothers Piero and Renzo Rosati, Filippo Rovini and Valter Ceccatelli. Now the Incas Group consists of Incas and Italtan with brand names David and Veliero. A number of the original tanneries are now closed. Incas are one of the biggest single tanneries in the area, which consists mainly of small and medium sized units. They were the first to install automated production and this was recently upgraded. They first adopted the Hüni system in 1983. In 1997 they decided to upgrade but found at that time Hüni were not flexible enough so they opted for Olcina Systematic automation instead. However, by the time of their latest upgrade, in January 2005, Hüni had created a new system Microtan LT and Incas are satisfied that they made the right choice. They believe they now have the most recent and the most sophisticated, fully computerised, system in the world. The Hüni system offers Swiss precision and upgrades and repairs can be carried out by modem from Zurich. In all, 36 drums can be operated by just four touch panels, two each for dyeing and tanning. Asked why they had not opted for Italian technology, Leather International was told that local manufacturers were less flexible when it came to handling such a large number of drums. Incas are known for their veg tanned baby calf for shoe (70%), bag (20%) and garment leathers (10%). Recently their garment leathers featured in the March collections of such prestigious names as Hermes and Christian Dior. They also produce kangaroo leathers for shoes, garments, bags. These arrive pickled in barrels and represent 10% of the company's turnover. Kangaroo leather by Incas is used by Hugo Boss for casual footwear. They also tan deerskins from New Zealand. The kangaroo leather is thinner but stronger while the deerskin is softer with a more open fibre and a very specific grain. Baby buffalo and goat skins complete the inventory but calf represents the major part of production throughput (85%). They prefer to process from the raw material because this gives them complete control of the tanning and they have a number of sources depending on the species: baby calf from north America, New Zealand, Australia and Europe; buff calf and goat in crust form from India. The tannery now has a brand new refrigerated warehouse which will enable them to store 45 containers of raw materials during the summer months. One of the four owners, Piero Rosati acknowledges that, like all other industrial sectors in Italy, tanning is passing through a very difficult period. However, he says a small number of tanneries, Incas included, are doing extremely well and working to maximum capacity; others are unable to fill their order books. Rosati believes in the tanning industry in Italy and says his company has decided not to invest in offshore production. They think they can contribute by adding value in Italy and not by producing through a joint venture elsewhere. Incas describe their production as medium priced high quality leather. It is all produced in-house, mainly from raw. Processing is fully integrated and automated and a huge investment has been made not only in practically doubling the size of the tannery but in also continuing to upgrade the automation. According to Rosati, a number of tanneries in the area will disappear but those who believe in the industry and are prepared to invest will become stronger. He says that companies such as Gucci and LVMH (Louis Vuitton) will continue to need good quality leather. Gucci made in Italy has indeed a higher cachet than Gucci made in China. China has an enormous tanning capacity for volume production runs but they do not have the experience to produce the very fine leathers that are Italy's heritage. Rosati says: 'it is in the blood' and, certainly, the Italians are the best anywhere in the world for producing superb leathers from relatively poor quality raw materials. If Rosati is right then such skills cannot be learned, they have to be inherited. Also, will China want to produce the labour intensive, small runs that categorise Italy's small and medium sized tanneries. So far they have been concentrating on huge production runs. Incas export around 30% of their production directly to markets such as China, the USA, Germany, Portugal, Spain and France. The remaining 70% is sold at home and presumably a considerable quantity then finds its way overseas in the form of finished goods. Incas are one of the tanneries which tick all the boxes when it comes to future survival. They have invested heavily in their tannery and in environmental production, they believe in the future of the Italian tanning industry and they produce must have leathers which are not price dependent.

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