March 20th, 2017

Almost all of the export indicators are showing green. Generating a total of 9.9 billion euros, exports have grown by some 6% compared with 2015. All of France's main clients, with the exception of Japan, are increasing their French imports. Sales to Italy (1.4 billion euros, 14% of exports), the United States (1 billion euros, 10% of exports) and Hong-Kong (0.9 billion euros, 9.5% of exports) have grown by 6%, 1% and 9% respectively. Europe accounts for more than half of exports while a little less than a third are for Asia + Oceania. Sales in Europe and Asia have also experienced growth of 8% and 6% respectively.

The strongest increase has been seen in Singapore, a country with great growth potential in the consumer goods sectors. Taking all sectors into consideration, sales have shot up by 53%, generating some 782 million euros. Singapore mainly imports leather goods (92% of its imports from France). Exports of leather goods to Singapore leaped by 55% in 2016 after increasing by 31% in 2015 and 20% in 2014.


+8% growth for the export of luxury leather goods and footwear items 

The leather goods (60% of exports) and footwear (30% of exports) sectors have experienced the steepest increases. Overseas demand for leather goods and footwear from France remains strong. Exports by the leather industry (6 billion euros) and the footwear industry (3 billion euros) have grown at the same pace, some 8%.

Sales of handbags have increased by 5% in value terms and 1% in volume. The average transaction value of exported handbags has also increased:

  • Handbags (taking all materials into account): 155.70 euros (+ 4%)
  • Leather handbags: 408.22 euros (+2%)

Of the 21.1 million handbags exported, 5.2 million were made of leather.

The sale of travel items and small leather goods have rocketed by 20% and 15%.

The average transaction value of exported shoes and other footwear also increased by an average of 7%:

  • Footwear with synthetic uppers (excluding slippers): 14.29 euros (+10%)
  • Footwear with leather uppers (excluding slippers): 57.32 euros (+ 5%)
  • Footwear with textile uppers and others (excluding slippers): 23.35 euros (+ -16%)
  • Slippers: 9.97 euros (+27%)

France exported 106.1 million pairs of shoes (an increase of 0.9 million pairs on last year) for a total value of 3 billion euros, which represents an increase of 1% in volume and 8% in value.

Sales of leather clothing (183 million euros) are also showing positive growth (+4%). The trend is for a quite substantial drop in imports (-12% between 2016 and 2015) and an increase in exports. Since 2013, the terms of trade* for this sector have increased by 21% to stand at 78%. As for leather goods and footwear, the luxury labels are the main exporters of leather articles.


The balance of trade within the sector is reaching equilibrium with terms of trade standing at 90%

Trade in the French Leather Sector is tending towards equilibrium with terms of trade standing at 90%; this represents an increase of 3% against 2015. This improvement can be explained by the fact that the sector’s imports (11 billion euros) have only increased by 3% whereas exports have grown by 6%.

The leather and raw hide sectors and leather goods are showing a large surplus, with terms of trade of 232% and 171% respectively. Imports of leather goods, estimated at 3.5 billion euros, have experienced growth of 3% whilst exports, evaluated at 6 billion euros have increased by 8%. This has allowed the terms of trade for the leather goods industry to rise by 7 points in 2016.   

In the footwear sector, terms of trade have risen by 6% since 2013 to stand at 46%. Exports grew at a stronger rate than imports.

Despite the stiff competition from countries paying lower wages, notably in Asia (48% of imports come from Asia), the sector is increasingly present on this continent thanks to the dynamism and attractivity of the French luxury industry.

France exports nearly six times more to America than it imports from this continent (the terms of trade stand at 563%, up 8 points against 2015).

Trade with Europe is nearly balanced with a surplus in favour of France (terms of trade are 106%, up by 2 points).

Trade with Asia is showing a deficit although terms of trade have increased by 2 points to 58%.    


Mixed results for exports of raw materials

Exports of raw materials represent 7% of the sector’s exports.

Since 2013, when exports experienced an exceptional rise, overseas demand for leather and raw hides has continually decreased. Exports were valued at 325 million euros, a fall of 12%. This slowdown in growth from our main clients can be explained by the difficulties experienced in the sector since 2014. Sales in Italy, which alone represented three-quarters of exports, have shrunk by 13%. The same tendency has been seen with sales in China and Spain, which have fallen by 31% and 7% respectively. Exports of leather and raw hides from bovine and ovine species have contracted by 12% and 33%. There now exists large stocks of raw hides, notably ovine. 

In the tannery sector, exports (328 million euros) increased by 2%, but the situation varies considerably depending on the species. Finished bovine leathers and finished ovine leather have increased by 7% and 8% respectively whereas sales of calf, goat and reptile leathers have shrunk by 10%, 5% and 31% respectively. In fact, many finished leathers remain in France to be used by the producers of leather goods, where demand for high quality materials continues to be strong. 


*terms of trade = (exportations / importations) x 100 

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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