Leather Industry in Bangladesh

Leather Industry in Bangladesh

Leather, Leather goods and footwear export sector is a highly labor intensive industry with more than 60% women workforce. At present, leather sector with its subsectors constitutes of around 220 tanneries, 3500 small and medium enterprises (SMEs), around 90 large firms, and 15 big enterprises. Currently it is employing about 200,000 and has potential to employ several hundred thousand in the near future. Bangladesh produces raw material 310 million sqf annually and accounts for 1.8% cattle & 3.7% goat of global livestock. Bangladesh’s current export earning is around 1 billion making it 2nd largest export sector in the country after Ready-made garments (RMG). Bold local entrepreneurship, drive for export diversification of higher domestic value addition and government’s support scheme are facilitating industry to emerge as destination next in global supply chain. The industry has up to 85% value addition. Proven brands are already manufacturing in Bangladesh such as Timberland, CATerpillar, Merrell, Clarks, Steve Madden, R.M.Williams, PICARD, ALDO, PUMA etc.

The government is going to take an initiative to set up a leather industrial park beside the BSCIC Tannery Industrial Estate in Hemayetpur, Savar, as part of a plan to set up a full-fledged leather industrial city.If the project is implemented, it will be part of a full blown leather industrial city sprawling over 400 acres of land.



The global leather goods market size was valued at USD 394.12 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.9% from 2021 to 2028. The market is mainly driven by rising consumer disposable income, improved living standards, changing fashion trends, and growing domestic and international tourism. The rising demand for comfortable, trendy, and fancy leather apparel, footwear, and accessories, along with growing brand awareness, is expected to have a positive impact on the market. Attractive and luxurious leather products are often viewed as a style statement and status symbol. The rising demand for contemporary designs offered by prominent international brands, such as Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Prada, and Dolce & Gabbana, is driving the demand for various leather goods, including apparel, footwear, and accessories.

U.S leather goods market size, by product, 2016-2028 (USD Billion)



An increasing number of High-Net-Worth Individuals (HNWIs), coupled with the growing trend of designer & branded clothes in major markets, such as the U.S., France, and China, is boosting the demand for leather products. Leather goods are exclusive and often premium priced. The demand for leather products is significantly growing in China owing to the increasing number of HNWIs and Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) in the country. According to the Global Wealth Report 2019, published in October 2019, by Credit Suisse Group AG, in 2018, China had 10% of the world’s total HNWIs.

Rising awareness regarding the detrimental effects of unethical practices in the production of apparel and footwear has boosted the demand for sustainable products. Sustainable fashion is steadily attracting consumers as many renowned designers have been promoting the concept of sustainability. For instance, designers, such as Stella McCartney, have been promoting sustainable fashion products, including footwear, in affordable stores, such as Top Shop and Zara.

Main Exportable Products

Bangladesh produces, Leather, Leather Products, Leather Footwear, and non-leather footwear:

FOOTWEAR: Boot & High top, House Slipper, Pump, flat oxford, derby, moccasins, brogue, loafer, platform, Sandals& flip flop, Sports footwear & sneaker, Loafers, oxfords, brogues, mules, boat shoes &moccasins, Sports footwear & sneakers

BAGS: Brief cases, school satchels & messenger bags, Handbags, clutches & shoulder bags, Other bags & cases, Purses, pouches & wallets, Travel bags, toilet bags, rucksacks & sports bags, Trunks, suitcases & vanity cases

ACCESSORIES: Belts and Gloves etc.

In terms of capacity, we are the 8th largest footwear producing country with 407 million pairs.

Global leather goods market share, by product, 2020 (%)



Main Export Market

At present, the industry has preferential market access to three billion people around the world. It has exported leather products and footwear in 106 countries around the world. Bangladesh moved towards finished products in the early 1990s aiming for more value addition of its products. Bangladesh leather, leather products, and footwear industry are moving up for value-added expensive products.

Conventionally, the sector has made its strong presence in European markets under the preferential market access. At present, Germany, Japan, Netherland, Spain, Italy, UK, Belgium, France, Poland, Russia, and Canada, are the big export markets for Bangladeshi leather goods & footwear.

Gradually, the sector is expanding in non-traditional market access. Sectoral export to non-traditional markets such as to the USA has been increasing gradually; while, in Japan, the export of leather goods showed more than 100% growth in just three years from 2016-2018. In addition, the growth of the export of leather, leather goods, and footwear to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Australia, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa has increased exponentially in recent years.


Women Empowerment

Women constitute around 30 per cent of the leather sector labor force. The leather sector employs around 22,000 women, majority of them engaged in footwear manufacturing. Women's employment within the leather sector varies significantly; about 38 per cent are employed in leather footwear manufacturing, 33 per cent in the manufacturing of luggage & handbags and only 2.0 per cent are employed in tanneries. Women's participation in leather footwear manufacturing grew from 2.2 per cent in 2001 to 37 per cent in 2012. Women in recent time are interested more to work in the footwear manufacturing industry, as it does not involve heavy physical activity compared to tannery. However, production of footwear requires use of chemicals and adhesives for which special precaution is needed both for men and women. Another feature of women's employment in the leather sector is that they are employed as production and production-related workers, only 0.4 per cent of the total women engaged in this sector were owners of the business. In recent years, the number of women entrepreneurs in the footwear and leather goods sub-sectors has increased.

Scope for future women's employment in leather and leather goods (including footwear).