Rabindra Dhungel, 10 october 2020. Exports of ready-made skins plummeted due to the global epidemic of Covid-19. Buyers from China, Italy, France, Turkey, Latin America and other countries started canceling orders.
The tannery United Tannery, run by Pervez Akhtar in Duhabi, Sunsari, had a stock of more than Rs 500 million in raw, semi-processed, processed and ready-made leather.
Undoing ready-made leather is not possible. Even if it is exported, the price of a coin is found. What to do in this difficult situation? After Kovid stopped exporting, Pervez thought of setting up an industry to make shoes and slippers.
Parvez’s father Samsul, 67, has been in the leather business since the Rana period. In the eastern hills, raw leather contracts were awarded by Samsul. All the raw hides collected in the hills were deposited in Dharan and exported to India from Dharan. Samsul’s family founded United in Duhabi in 1984.
Since then, United has been continuously producing and exporting ready-made skins by processing raw hides. United has been the country’s largest leather exporter many times. The industry has exported up to 1.5 million square feet of finished leather. United has been supplying leather for boots worn by Nepal Police and Nepal Army.
Embracing the leather processing and trade as a family tradition, Parvez’s family decided to use ready-made leather themselves. First opening a shoe factory and gradually producing other finished goods. “If the industries of the developed countries are exporting ready-made leather from the leather we have exported, why don’t we?” Said Pervez at his family meeting.
With this in mind, he registered a factory called United Real Leather. It was decided that the factory would be located in Duhabi of Sunsari. United Real has opened its first leather shoe room in Biratnagar. Parvez and his wife inaugurated the room at the Central Mall on Main Road in Biratnagar on Friday.
“Bansbari Leather Shoe Factory was the first industry in Nepal to produce shoes made from collected and processed leather,” Parvez told Bijmandu. According to Mazhar Haq, another operator of the industry, a small shoe factory has been started immediately with an investment of Rs 200 million. There are plans to increase the capacity of the industry along with the expansion of trade. The industry employs 50 people, including 10 technicians.
In the initial phase, United has produced 28 types of footwear for jeans, ladies and children. These include shoes used by schoolchildren. United’s shoes start at Rs 1,500 in retail and are available up to a maximum of Rs 5,000. The industry has given up to 20 percent discount on its products on the occasion of Dasantihar. Also, the shoes have a 6-month warranty.
Our specialty is that our products do not use rexine or any other imitation leather, ‘said Mazhar.’ Most of the shoes on the market look like leather but are not really leather. We are free from this guilt. “Purity is our first condition,” he said, adding that the aim of the industry was to export shoes, which accounted for 90 per cent of the raw material used in Nepal.
He informed that sufficient quantity of raw leather is available in Nepal and by collecting and processing it, his industry will produce readymade leather. Only the sole of the shoe should be imported from China. He said that even though the production of Seoul is done in Nepal, it has to be ordered from China as the quality is not good.
He said United would also set up a factory in Seoul as trade expanded. United is producing shoes from goat, buffalo and calf leather. The industry plans to open the room at Salisbury Store in Satdobato, Vishal Bazaar on New Road and Selbage Store in Pokhara before Biratnagar.
“Once the footwear market expands and is established, in the second phase we will produce belts, wallets, ladies bags and laptop bags,” he said. “We believe our products will help import substitution.” We are producing ready-made leather of international quality. Therefore, we claim that the shoes we produce also meet the international quality standards. ‘
He mentioned that the main collection sites for raw hides are Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. He complained that no other district coordination committee in Nepal has levied export tax on leather but three districts in the valley are levying export tax at the rate of Rs 30 per unit. Mazhar said, “If we want to encourage indigenous industries and replace imports, the export tax on leather should be stopped immediately.”