Leather goods and footwear have enjoyed great export success, while raw materials have seen a drop in demand

March 29th, 2016

An increase of 11% in value terms for exports across the entire French leather sector

Exports across the French leather sector, taking all products into account, grew by 11% in 2015, generating a total of 9.3 billion euros.All of France’s main clients – Italy, the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom – increased their orders, with the exception of Hong Kong which reduced them by 9%.More than half of exports go to Europe while a little less than a third are for Asia and Oceania.Exports to Italy alone represent 14% of exports and grew by 5% in 2015.

Leather goods are booming with an 11% increase in exported articles, in value terms 

Exports of leather goods – generating some 5.6 billion euros – represent 60% of the sector’s exports.After two rather difficult years for the luxury sector, exports from the leather goods industry are once again experiencing significant growth, showing an increase of 11%.Sales to the United States, Singapore and the United Kingdom soared by 24%, 31% and 30% respectively.The slowdown in demand from Hong Kong is confirmed.Exports to this country shrank by 12% in 2014 and 9% in 2015. Sales to Japan are starting to show positive developments once again,growing by 4%.In value terms, sales of handbags have increased by 14%, notably thanks to the boom in demand from the United States, up 41%.Sales of small leather goods have collapsed for the three main clients: exports to the United States, Japan and Hong Kong fell by 15%, 23% and 28% respectively. They increased by 46% to Singapore and 13% to Italy.

Footwear sees export sales increase by 19% in value terms

Exports of shoes and other forms of footwear grew by 8% in volume and 19% in value terms, thanks to an average transaction value that was up by 10%. Some of these sales are re-exports. The increase in the average import price was reflected in the export price. The strongest growth was in footwear with textile uppers and synthetic uppers (not including slippers) experiencing 71% and 31% growth respectively (in value terms). Exports of shoes with leather uppers grew by 9%.

Fewer shoes imported but at a higher price

In 2015, France imported fewer shoes and other footwear items but at a higher average price, which generated in increase in import value of 11% (6.2 billion euros). The number of pairs imported grew from 508.7 to 497.1 million, a reduction of some 11.6 million pairs. This 2% reduction in imported volumes is accompanied by a 15% increase in average transaction value.

France imported 377.9 million pairs from Asia, some 8.9 million fewer than in 2014. Their average price rose by 25%, generating a 22% increase in imports from Asia. The fall in the number of pairs imported from China (9%) was almost counterbalanced by the huge rise in purchases from Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Cambodia, up by 38%, 20%, 27% and 39% respectively.

Strong demand from the luxury industry for imports of raw and finished exotic skins

Imports of raw exotic skins grew by 24%. They represent more than two-thirds of French imports of raw leathers and skins. These skins mainly come from the United States, Zimbabwe and Australia. A similar trend can be seen in imports of finished exotic skins, which increased by 25%.

France reduced its imports of raw calf and ovine hides by 21% and 25% respectively. At the same time, imports of finished calf and ovine skins grew by 22% and 87%. There is clearly strong demand for tanned calf and ovine hides from manufacturers of finished products. 

Drop in exports of French raw hides and finished leathers

Italy is one of France’s main clients and it represents three quarters of French exports of raw hides. Consequently, when Italy reduces demand by 6%, the effects are substantial. Other European countries, such as Germany and Turkey for example, also saw their imports of French raw hides drop by 14% and 69% respectively. A trend that is confirmed in terms of exports of French finished leathers, down by 12% for Italy which represents one third of overseas sales, 4% for Tunisia, 11% for Morocco and 2% for Spain. Overall, exports of French raw hides and finished leathers have fallen by 5%.


Frank Boehly, President of the Conseil National du Cuir : "The export results for 2015 are very encouraging for our industry and illustrate the dynamism and creativity of our sector. However, we must continue to maintain our savoir-faire, strengthen our efforts to obtain more high quality skins and carry on promoting items that are ‘Made in France”.


*The document can be downloaded on conseilnationalducuir.org

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Le Conseil National du Cuir

The confederation brings together 21 federations and professional unions of the French leather industry, ranging from the farming of livestock through to the finished products.

The French leather industry

  • 12 800 businesses
  • 25 billion euro turnover, 
  • 133,000 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