West Bengal is one of the pre-independence states connected with the leather sector. Whether it was the manufacture of completed leather or leather goods such as bags, belts, wallets, leather footwear or Shantiniketan bags, West Bengal was synonymous with the leather sector in particular with Kolkata and Santiniketan. The State is one of the biggest leather and leather products manufacturer and exporter. The state has about 100 manufacturing units of tanneries and numbers of leather products, most of which are micro and small businesses. The availability of raw materials, abundant water supply, low labor costs and low operating costs are some of the key variables that created West Bengal an attractive destination for the leather industry.
West Bengal’s leather sector is focused mainly in two regions, namely Kolkata and Santiniketan. Because there is geographic concentration of manufacturing units, product resemblance and manufacturing method, and the presence of backward and forward connections in these locations, they qualify as clusters. These clusters essentially constitute West Bengal’s leather sector. The leather cluster of Kolkata involves Kolkata’s geographical borders as well as Bantala’s Calcutta Leather Complex. At the newly established Calcutta Leather Complex, the majority of the tanneries are situated. The leather goods and footwear are focused on Kosba, Topsia and Tangra manufacturing units.
Beleghata mainly has units specializing in the manufacture of industrial gloves. In the region of Batanagar, Nungi, Janbazar, Rajabazar and College Street there are footwear units. Tangra operates several Chinese companies. On Bentinck Street, predominantly owned by the Chinese population, you can see countless household units-cum-retail footwear stores. Janbazaar, Rajabazar and College Street are the center of leather footwear micro and family units.
The products produced in these clusters can be categorized as industrial gloves, finished leather, leather goods such as bags, wallets, etc. Local industry consists of separate sub-sectors operating on distinct value chains. Sometimes there are units working on distinct value chains even in the same sub-sector depending on their manufacturing scale and the multiplicity of processing phases engaged. Tanning, leather products, industrial gloves and footwear are the main sub-sectors here.
West Bengal’s leather sector is quite vast and diverse, with each sub-sector having its own set of issues. Leather products from the town, from bags to fashion accessories, have created a strong reputation for consistent quality and competitive prices on the worldwide market for decades now. According to statistics, half of Indian finished leather product exports come from units in and around the town. More than 600 unusual town companies have gained a position in the export markets of hard currency. In addition to leather bags, bags and accessories, industrial gloves and leather clothing are also exported significantly from Kolkata.
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