On arrival, the President will be taken to the venue by Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, IDB Chairman, Mahinda Jinsena, Director General P. L. U. Ratnamalala, Director Marketing and Media Sarath Udayasiri, Assistant Director in charge of Centre for the Development of Leather Products and Footwear Amaranath Wimalasinghe along with SLFLPMA President P.G.D. Nimalasiri and the officials of the Association.
The Footwear and Leather Fair 2018 will end on Sunday, 4th February, the day Sri Lanka will mark the 70th year of winning Independence.
The Fair and Exhibition organized by the Association under the able guidance and support of the Industrial Development Board of Ceylon (IDB), Katubedde, Moratuwa and the Industry and Commerce Ministry, along with the Export Development Board (EDB) which pioneered the the exhibition of this sort in the year 2007.
This will be the showcase, as to how the Footwear and Leather Industry in Sri Lanka play a significant role in harnessing the talents of local youth including those pursuing university education in the fields of art and craft to earn the much needed foreign exchange and assist in strengthening the economy of the country.
The Exhibition and Fair while silently show how it has created employment opportunities to those with talents in this particular field of social importance, would also be the guiding star to those with talent and keen to follow the path, to purse employment opportunities available leading to their destined future. Exhibition and Fair also turns out to be the venue buyers and sellers meet and those visiting would be able to buy the quality goods at very affordable price as the dealing is direct without a third party.
The Design Competition organized as a part of this Fair, by the IDB Centre for the Development of Leather Products and Footwear, headed by IDB Assistant Director Amaranath Wilmalasinghe, is of great importance, as that would ensure the future of this industry. Awards will be given to the best designers and to those winning the best stall competition. The exclusive ‘Fashion Show’ organized to entertain the public, will add colour to the Fair and Exhibition.
The panel of judges numbering 18, include university lecturers, competent authorities of this particular field and heads of business institutions who are ready to provide permanent employment to those get selected as the best designers at the competition, held this year.
The first three winners with their innovative designs of each category i.e. Leather bags; Shoes for men and Shoes for women, will receive a certificate and cash prizes. The other seven others of each category would receive a certificate of merit and recognition.
The competitors numbering 72 who have submitted their designs at the competition include, designers mostly from the Western Province and Galle and Matara districts along with a few undergraduates from the Moratuwa University and students following courses in the aesthetic departments in other universities and institutions, in the country.
This annual event commenced in the year 2007 for the first time with the objectives of strengthening and sustaining the image of the industry, promotes Sri Lankan export capabilities among international buyers, provide opportunity for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to improve their talents and skills to become export-oriented companies with the passage of time.
One other objective or aims of the Fair is to support them to upgrade their technological capabilities and encourage them to move into manufacture of value added products to cater to the international market.
The fair which now has turn out to be an annual event, has contributed immensely to create an impressive awareness of the Sri Lanka Footwear and Leather industry both locally and internationally.
Participants at this year Footwear and Leather Fair include those prom India and Pakistan are those involved in the industry as suppliers of material, equipment, accessories & machineries very much related to the footwear and leather goods manufacturing. They will display most modern machinery and technology that would greatly assist those in the Leather industry.
The Enterprise Promotion Manager Udaya Mathugamage said that like in the past years a number of industrialist involved in this particular field, in one way or other, both from India and Pakistan, have confirmed their participation at this year fair and exhibition.
He also said that from the 230 stalls, would be allocated for the purpose of exhibiting products of variety of designs, and for sales for SMEs and six for women entrepreneurs supported by the EDB and two stalls for the undergraduates of Aesthetic University, and those working at Design Centers or employed as designers at local factories, to show their latent talents.
The industry caters to the entrepreneurship in the country by providing direct and indirect employment to over 50,000 via a large export-oriented companies. It is highly a labour incentive industry focus attention on outstanding quality, and covers a very comprehensive range of products such as canvas shoes, rubber boots sandals, sports shoes, leather shoes. The industry also turns out wallets, bags, purses, key tags and other accessories claims to have a huge demand in both local and global market.
Perusing the pages of the success story of the Footwear and Leather Fair down the memory lane, one would find that the participation of this annual event beginning from the year 2007 has shown ever increasing number of participants. While the number of stalls of the first year was 141, the number of stalls has gone up to 230, this year and according to the Organizing Committee of the event, they had to limit to this number, owing to lack of space to accommodate more, though there were request seeking opportunity from many more manufactures keen to join the exhibition.
Sources close to the Association also said that apart from the local manufacturers and industrialists in this field, there will also be foreign importers of raw material and components would also have the opportunity to exhibit their machinery at the fair. There will also be foreign delegations representing a number of countries like in the past years along with some foreign journalists representing the Fourth Estate, will visit the fair.