Leather, footwear firms set sights on exports

(VOV) - The Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso) is forecasting high export growth of Made-in-Vietnam handbags, suitcases and briefcases for the leather and footwear industry in 2014.

Handbag exports jumped up 26% to US$1.92 billion in 2013, which far outpaced expectations of US$1.7 billion, according to Lefaso.

This year, it is anticipating that handbag exports will surge approximately 30%.

Lefaso regularly tracks information about opportunities in the handbag industry as many foreigners are seeking Vietnamese suppliers, who are benefiting from a world-wide trend away from factories in China and Indonesia.

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Lefaso President Nguyen Duc Thuan says eight out of 10 world famous handbag brand names are currently planning to shift their orders to Vietnam, providing a great opportunity for Vietnam to get a firm foothold in the international market.

Vietnamese handbags, suitcases and briefcases are currently available on five continents and are getting a toehold into the higher demand markets.

Currently, the EU accounts for 28% of Vietnamese handbags, suitcases and briefcases, Asia (21%) and northern America (44%).

There is still an untapped high demand for these products in the world market, which enables domestic businesses to break into and expand production, Thuan said.

Some Vietnamese businesses have taken advantages of materials, markets and experiences to invest in handbag manufacturing.

For instance, Thai Binh Shoes is a pioneer in the manufacturing of luxury handbags for world famous brand names, including Coach of the US.

As a group these products have experienced rapid export growth since 2011, earning  US$1.33 billion in 2011, US$1.518 billion in 2012 and US$1.92 billion in 2013.

They have also gained the confidence from domestic customers and around 25 million of the products are sold annually in the domestic market.

Businesses primarily use domestic leather to make student handbags and backpacks and import higher quality materials to make luxury handbags.

In the past, foreign investors have dominated the handbag export market, however, domestic businesses have got into it over the past 2 years and have set their targets to become suppliers to world famous brands.