Oz focuses new look on merino

FORTY-NINE exhibitors will represent the Australian leather industry at this year's Asia-Pacific Leather Fair, where a new type of leather developed in Australia will be on display.

This year's exhibitors total 15 more than the number that took part in the successful Australia Week in last year's edition of the show.

Australian Trade Commissioner Richard Gould said ''Australian companies notched up sales of over A$200 million (HK$1.1 billion), their best on record,'' at last year's leather fair.

Wet blue products and finished leather goods were in record demand from his country's stands during Australia Week, Mr Gould said.

He said Australian firms found 255 new buyers and 190 new sales outlets at Leather '93.

In Part Two of this year's fair, which will feature fashion and finished products, the Australians would display merino leather, a new product, which was developed by the Australian Meat Research Corporation.

The corporation will display goods such as handbags, furniture and fashion garments made out of merino leather.

Hostesses will be dressed in merino leather clothing at a reception to be held at the Australia pavilion to promote the new product.

During the first part of the fair, Raw Materials and Manufacturing, 16 Australian producers of hides and skins will be exhibiting their products.

Kangaroo skins, buffalo hides, crocodile skins, horse hides and lamb pelts will be among the products displayed by these companies, which include Michell Leather, Southern Pacific Sheepskins, Fletcher Sheepskins Australia and Dixon Wetblue.

Michell Leather will use the fair to showcase its latest venture, a US$8 million wet blue tanning plant in southern Ireland which will tan up to 8,000 hides a week for the European upholstery leather market.

The High Tile Group will be exhibiting leather accessories in Part One, including wool pile lining for leather boots, shoes and garments.

The Federated Tanners' Association (FTAA) will be represented in Part One by 14 tanning companies. Two non-members will also be exhibiting.

Tannery products on display will include chrome-tanned industrial footwear and upholstery leather, lambskins for floor rugs and sheepskins for medical applications.

Exhibiting tanneries include Australian Leather Holdings, Dixon Leather, Packer Tanning and Victorian Hide and Skin Producers.

In addition to the displays of merino leather in Part Two of the exhibition, there will be eight Australian companies showing their wares.

These include Outback Leather, Tanners A.I. Topper & Company, Jackson's Australia, Crompton Group Holdings, Sheepskin Downunder, and C&T Manufacturing.