World Footwear


Arnaud Haefelin: exports are the main driver of the French leather goods sector

May 26, 2022 France
Arnaud Haefelin: exports are the main driver of the French leather goods sector
We spoke with Arnaud Haefelin, who is the President of the French Leather Goods Federation (FFM), to discuss the priorities of his third term at the helm of the association
The French Leather Goods Federation (FFM) has been representing and defending the interests of member companies since its foundation, in 1937, and that has not changed.

"In a context of strong growth in French leather goods and more particularly in exports, my top priority is to support the French leather goods companies that are members of the Federation in their development. We’re talking about 10 billion euros worth of exports in 2021 and 6 billion euros contributing to the reduction of the trade balance deficit in France. Such growth requires recruiting more and more talents, at a time when full employment generates tensions in the French labour market", states Mr. Arnaud Haefelin.

The growth of the sector can be easily observed. Having held the same position within the organization also between 2015 and 2019, Arnaud Haefelin notes that the "number of craftsmen in the Leather Goods segment went from 18 000 (in 2015) to around 35 000 today". He adds that this is "mostly due to the appeal of high-end leather goods of major French luxury brands to Chinese and American costumers".

In fact, according to the French National Leather Council, China became the main export market for the national leather industry over the past year (with an increase of 36%, as compared to 2020). Performance in the US also stood out, with a 37% growth year-over-year. In Europe, however, the sector grows at a slower pace (up by 9%).

Despite the good prospects, the path is not without bumps. There is an increasing need for the introduction and the development of new materials "due to the rising public attention for animal well-being, and, therefore, for products of animal origin". Thus, "to keep on making the buyers all around the world dream about the iconic French leather goods", the sector must adapt leather "to new technologies while preserving the traditional expertise and its transfer", concludes the President of FFM.