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Foot & Mouth

There are two important issues that need to be discussed with regards to the
'foot and mouth' crisis.  The first relates to the shipping of leather
around the world and the second and more difficult issue relates to the
future of leather availability and prices.

Issue 1 - Shipping Leather

When this epidemic started the first reaction of government health
departments around the World was to prevent the import of leather and
leathergoods from the UK and Europe and to hold up the said items at
Customs.  Thankfully, these same governments have now seen sense and have
realised or been advised that there is no risk of spreading foot and mouth
disease through tanned leather.  So apart from this initial hiccup when the
disease appeared in January, we have had no problems in exporting our
leather.  At present and until further notice, the following declaration
(attached to the shipping documents) will be accompanying all exported
leather shipments from J. Hewit & Sons Ltd:


To whom it may concern


According to the Office International des Epizooties (the World Organisation
for Animal Health) the causative agent of Foot and Mouth disease is
progressively inactivated by pH levels below 6.0 and above 9.0.  It can also
be inactivated by a range of disinfectants.

Further to the recent visit by a BLC (British Leather Confederation)
representative to the tannery in Edinburgh, we hereby certify that
specialist staff from the BLC Leather Technology Centre have inspected the
premises and processes.  We can confirm that the tannery processes skins
into leather in accordance with internationally accepted procedures.  The
leather produced meets recognised international standards, which means that
it has been fully tanned to become imputrescible.

The leather making processes involve the treatment of the material with
strong alkaline solutions to pH in excess of 12, pickling with acid to a pH
below 3, tanning with vegetable tanning agents and treatment with biocides.

The leather will therefore be free from foot and mouth disease.

These processes are sufficient to ensure conformity with the European
Commission Decision of 21st February concerning certain protection measures
with regard to foot and mouth disease in the United Kingdom.


Issue 2 - Availability and Prices

With the crisis now entering its 4th month, the lack of available cow and
sheep hides and the resulting higher prices is already being felt within the
European Leather Industry.  The problem will get worse before it gets better
and there are undoubtedly going to be some serious problems in obtaining
leather over the next few years.

Most of our raw material is imported from Asia, Africa and Northern Europe
or comes from domestic sources.  As this is being written the following

- The availability and price of Goatskins and Calf hides from Asia and North
Africa - Unchanged.

- The availability and price of Calf hides Northern Europe - We have been
informed of an imminent 15% increase in the costs of pelts.  However, this
may be due to factors other than 'foot and mouth'

- The availability and price of Sheep Pelts from the UK - It is more than
likely that there will be a significant shortage of sheepskin
pelts which would effect our Skiver production.   We normally purchase our
sheepskins from domestic sources, and although we have relatively good
stocks within the company at this present time, the indication is that if we
were to order new pelts now, they would be either unavailable or
prohibitively expensive.  We would estimate that this shortage would last
for approximately 1-2 years after the end of the current crisis.

As things settle down and the crisis comes to an end, it will take a while
for the hide and pelt markets to become less volatile and to settle down to
their new pricing levels.

At J. Hewit & Sons, we are currently reviewing our leather prices.  This is
an annual review that normally takes place at this time of year.  It takes
into consideration the changing production and material costs and overheads
of the company and normally reflects the underlying inflation rate.  There
may be some slightly higher than usual increases, but we do not expect there
to be any really unpleasant surprises.  The new prices will most probably
come in to effect at the end of May.

I hope that this has addressed some of the concerns of Terry and Margaret.
(Most probably, there is no valid reason why those chairs from Italy are
being held up by Canadian Customs.  A declaration from the Italian
manufacturer of the leather and furniture would most probably solve the

Please do not hesitate to  contact us with any further queries you may have,
either on or off list.

best wishes,


David M. Lanning
J. Hewit & Sons Ltd.
e-mail: sales@hewit.com
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8965 5377
Fax: +44 (0) 20 8453 0414

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