Questions have arisen at the UITIC Congress in Porto about the possible impact on the running of multi-stakeholder body the Leather Working Group (LWG) of the acquisition by a Belgium-based research company Eurofins of BLC.
UK-based BLC is the founder of the LWG and continues to play a key role in running it.
On April 24, Eurofins said it had no intention of changing any aspect of BLC’s operations and that the running of the LWG would remain unchanged. Eurofins said it had made the executive committee of the LWG aware of its acquisition of BLC “at the earliest opportunity”, and added that it had given reassurance to the committee that “the skilled staff that currently participate in the management of the LWG will continue”.
Nevertheless, at the UITIC Congress, the first major gathering of the global footwear industry since the acquisition was announced, delegates began to raise doubts about this reassurance.
In Porto, the topic came up in conversations involving footwear industry leaders. Specifically, they asked how other testing, research and standards bodies that have long been involved in the LWG can continue if their involvement has the potential to give Eurofins, a rival body in their eyes, extra insight into these companies’ strategies or ways of working.
The clear implication was that they are worried their positions with regard to the LWG may become compromised by Eurofins’ ownership of BLC. One senior industry person told leatherbiz: “Whatever happens, the one thing that is certain is that things will change. It’s impossible for things to remain unchanged after this.”
Leatherbiz has asked Eurofins for further comment on this but have so far received no response.