British leather footwear – a global reach and continuing on its rise

British footwear manufacture is undergoing something of a renaissance as the world looks to British craftsmanship and branding. The latest UKTI figures for footwear exports from the UK stood at £1.3bn in 2014. This is up from £850 million in 2010.

Focus on leather footwear

Focussing on leather footwear, symbolic of the traditional skills and manufacturing processes that predominately occur around Northamptonshire and responsible still for a substantial proportion of the UK footwear manufacture, exports in 2014 were worth just under £660 million; an increase of 30 per cent since 2010.

Excitingly, the data shows that both EU and non-EU export markets are increasingly finding their appetite for UK leather footwear. Non-EU markets in particular have experienced a £50 million increase in export value since 2015.

Footwear exports

Who’s buying British?

By a long way, it’s Germany buying British eather footwear, with exports worth £121 million in 2014. This is a 30% increase on 2010. Next are the French importing £79.2 million (a 70.5 per cent increase on 2010) whilst the Irish Republic saw sales of over £75.4 million.

In terms of international sales, 7th on the list is the United States, where almost £30 million was exported and a 161 per cent increase on 2010. The Japanese also remain fans with £15.5 million worth of imports.

Footwear by country

….and the growing markets….

Whilst leather footwear exported from the UK has grown to a vast number of countries worldwide, three very different markets have seen the explosion of growth in their imports of UK leather footwear. The Kyrgyz Republic has seen exports grow from only £825 worth in 2010 and nothing in 2011 to £161,000 in 2014. Macao has seen growth from just £2,612 in 2010, whilst Uruguay has seen spikes in imports from the UK in 2012 and 13 to now import over £½ billion worth.

Footwear rising countries

Are the BRICS putting their best foot forward…

The group of the five large emerging national economies collective known as the BRICS have all seen different relationships with imports of UK leather footwear.

Brazil has traditionally been a small market, being only the 6th largest importer in Latin America and the Caribbean that had a total export value of £1.9m in 2015. Despite a huge fall in 2011 that interestingly did not correspond with the GDP growth figures that rose in this period, imports rose in 2012 before substantially falling in 2013 before rising strongly again in 2014 despite the economic climate.

Russian imports of UK leather footwear grew strongly year on year to 2013 until a substantial dip in 2014, due in much respect to the geo-political situation and relationship with the EU. However, at the end of 2014, they still remained over 8% higher than in 2010.

Indian exports have more than doubled in the same period. However, in 2011 they had reached £1.8m so the figure in 2014 represents a substantial and continuing decline.

China’s import value has increased over £3m in the period to stand at almost £5.3 million. Despite two successive years of declines to 2013, over £2m more was exported to China during 2014 and represents a 145% increase on 2014.

Lastly South Africa has been the star performer of the BRICS group. Exports to South Africa stood at over £2.4m which represents a 230% increase on 2010 figures. This increase has also been growing in real terms year on year which is furthermore impressive.

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2010-14
Brazil £119,640 £56,353 £168,883 £105,827 £128,811 7.7%
Russia £8,733,238 £9,229,358 £10,731,494 £12,156,349 £9,460,701 8.3%
India £346,885 £1,829,081 £1,410,191 £895,028 £717,392 106.8%
China £2,147,224 £4,041,948 £3,620,623 £3,229,883 £5,265,783 145.2%
South Africa £736,453 £1,305,542 £1,848,344 £2,083,858 £2,432,602 230.3%

Source: UKTI

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