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UK hand in glove with Ethiopia's booming leather sector

Tigrai Online, October 26, 2013

Ashegoda Wind-Farm in Tigrai state northern Ethiopia is the largest in Africa
Pittards now has ambitious plans to grow its Ethiopian operations, which help contribute towards the firm's £39m ($60m) annual revenues.

Amid the rhythmic clicking of rows and rows of sewing machines, hundreds of workers are busy creating a range of leather gloves, bags and jackets.

"I can tell when employees' skills have improved by the noises of the machines speeding up," says Tsedenia Mekbib, a general manager.

We are at a busy factory on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

It is one of three such facilities in the city owned by UK leather goods company Pittards, which has a long history of operating in the country.

While an increasing number of Western firms of all sizes are now looking at doing business in Africa, Pittards has had a 90-year head start.

The company, which is based in Yeovil, Somerset, in the south-west of England, has been trading in Ethiopia since the 1920s. And it is all down to a celebrated type of sheep - the Ethiopian hair sheep.

This breed, which does not grow a thick coat of wool, also has much thinner skin than its European brethren, making it ideal for delicate leather apparel such as ladies' gloves.

Source: BBC - Read More http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24610075

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