Richard Harris

East Renfrewshire tannery invests seven figure sum to facilitate growth

A tannery that was founded over 60 years ago has invested a seven figure sum in machinery that has allowed them to increase capacity to meet customer demand.

Clyde Leather, based in Neilston, East Renfrewshire was established by Walter Bevan Harris in 1955 and has developed a wide customer base that includes top brand names such as New Balance UK and Zatchel as well as supplying clients from a wide range of leather manufacturing sectors.

Now in its third generation and run by Walter’s grandson Richard Harris, Clyde Leather produces around 40,000 sq ft of bespoke, high quality leather and suede per week that is despatched to customers across the UK and abroad.

With support from Business Gateway, East Renfrewshire, the company which employs 30 people and is the only known UK manufacturer of pigmented leathers, is now looking to continue its expansion and increase its portfolio.

Richard, a leather chemist and the Managing Director said: “The British leather industry declined significantly in the 1990’s but through hard work, innovation, diversification and creating a consistent quality produce we have not only survived but have grown since then. We have invested extensively in machinery and our people infrastructure which has allowed us to remain at the forefront of the industry.

“At the moment 90% of our output is for the domestic market with leather being used for high quality suede shoes, handbags, leather belting and industrial leather. We supply leather to Charlotte Elizabeth who manufactures unique, high end handbags for clients including Meghan Markel, so our leather is available and has exposure everywhere in the UK.”

Clyde Leather, under Richard’s guidance, designs unique and bespoke leather and suede and believes in constantly pushing his team to be innovative, investing in the best equipment and ensuring they buy the best British raw material.

Richard added: “The company was growing but we were not growing strategically and the first thing Karine Burns of Business Gateway did was give us advice on different types of practices. She also recommended training courses, including leadership and training for managers that has really helped to empower us as a workforce. Having Karine’s expertise, fresh eyes, ideas and knowledge has been fantastic and we are now working on marketing plans that will help us target a global market”.

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Karine said “Richard came to us for support to help them grow and we identified that they needed help around strategy and marketing. We organised an International Strategy Workshop to clarify the company’s growth strategy followed by a workplace innovation organisational review that looked at improving the company’s people structures. Business Gateway is now working with Richard to develop their marketing strategy in addition to building an investor ready business plan with support from Scottish Enterprise.”

Richard added:  “We’re very proud to be going for over 60 years and keeping it in the family the whole time. We’re hopeful that our product will allow us to retain and secure other top branded and new customers. By taking on the advice and assistance of Business Gateway we’ll take the company to a new level that will ultimately lead to further growth.

“We have just recently secured a grant from East Renfrewshire Council’s Growth Company Development Fund which will assist Clyde Leather with the purchase of a new dyeing drum from Italy, underlining our commitment for further investment.”