French exports of leather items continue to experience strong growth in value terms on the Asian market

May 21st, 2015

The Economic Observatory of the French Leather Council (CNC) presents the analysis of the 2014 foreign trade figures for the French leather sector with a focus on the Asian market. 

More than third of exports by the French leather industry go to Asia. 

A large proportion of French exports go to the Asian continent. Sales in Asia stand at 2.8 billion euros, and represent a third of all French exports. In a difficult economic climate, businesses in the luxury sector have managed to maintain exports, achieving a slight increase (4%) on last year. Sales to Singapore and China have increased substantially, by 21% and 7% respectively, sales to Japan remain stable while sales to Hong Kong have fallen by 10%. 

Mostly leather items (leather goods and shoes) 

In Asia, France mainly exports leather goods (2.3 billion euros, or 83% of French exports to Asia) and footwear (356 million euros, or 13% of exports to Asia); sales of raw materials (91 million euros) only represents 3% of exports. 

A strong increase in the value of leather goods exports to China 

Handbag exports to China have shot up from 27,000 items in 2010 to 130,000 items in 2014; a nearly five-fold increase in 5 years. In value terms the increase is 8-fold. Sales of handbags in China stood at 9.9 million euros in 2010, and have now reached 79.9 million euros. The average customs transaction value has risen from 367 to 615 euros. France is the second largest supplier of leather goods to China. In value terms, 26% of Chinese imports come from France. 

Sales are stable for leather goods in Asia, despite the anti-corruption laws in the Asia Pacific region. 

Exports of leather goods to Asia have stayed practically unchanged, registering a slight 1% dip. Various factors, including the anti-corruption laws implemented in certain countries of the Asia-Pacific region, have halted the growth of exports to China (155 million euros, the same amount as in 2013) and have substantially impacted on sales to Hong Kong (down 12%).

This drop has been counterbalanced by the increase in sales of leather goods to Singapore +20%, South Korea +4%, Taiwan +17%, Macao +14%, Malaysia +5% and Indonesia +18%. 

A great performance from high-end French footwear on the Asian market 

Overall, sales of French shoes in Asia rose from 309.1 to 355.7 million euros, an increase of 15%.
This positive trend is the same in almost all countries. Growth is particularly strong in China, South Korea and Singapore, where sales have rocketed by 89%, 44% and 31% respectively. Footwear sales to Hong- Kong and Japan have increased in value by 5% and 6% respectively. The average customs price of exported shoes has increased by 13%. It is the type of shoes being exported that has changed.
In fact, although there is positive growth in the volumes being exported, the rate is slower. In 2014, footwear sales in Asia (3.9 million pairs) grew by just 2%.

Taking footwear sales to Asia between 2010-2014 as a whole, the average customs transaction value has increased by 30% (70 euros in 2010, 91 euros in 2014). Sales have increased by 67% in volume and 116% in value. 

Strong growth in luxury shoe exports to China. 

Over the last five years, sales of French shoes in China have been practically stable. France exported 239,600 pairs in 2014, against 235,800 in 2010. However, over the same period, the value of the exports increased ten-fold. The average customs transaction value of shoes sold in China is currently 132 euros, against 13 euros in 2010. Over the last five years, France has not exported more shoes to China, but the products have been increasingly high-end. In 2010, the proportion of leather shoes and slippers in these exports stood at 18% (in volume). In 2014, it was 71%. 

Frank Boehly, President of the National Leather Council:  “Despite the slowdown of the Chinese economy, sales of premium French leather items have continued to show strong growth in value terms on the Asian market. The luxury sector and French savoir-faire are the major strengths of our industry.” 

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Le Conseil National du Cuir

The confederation brings together 19 federations and professional unions of the French leather industry, ranging from the farming of livestock through to the finished products.

The French leather industry

  • 9 400 businesses
  • 25 billion euro turnover
  • 130,000 people employed in the leather, tanning, footwear, leathergoods and glovemaking and leather goods retail industries.
  • One of the world leaders for finished calf leather and exotic leather
  • 3rd biggest exporter in the world of leathers and raw hides
  • 13th largest exporter of finished leathers
  • World No.3 for exports of leathergoods