Volume 21 - Spring 2006


A Letter from the Top

from Roger Barlee

It is amazing how time flies as one gets older, so after an extremely hectic 12 months, it hardly seems a year since I last penned a letter for Skin Deep.

The last year has certainly been very busy. It was a relief to be able to supply our customer's calf from stock for a change and with the repair calf now sorted out, the skins are now generally available in good quantities. It shows how bad things had become when 12 months after we sorted out the repair calf stocks, customers still phone up to find out "if we have R# in stock". Whilst we knew the situation was bad, I don't think any of us here had realised how bad it was for everybody from the "other side". Unfortunately there has been a slight blip with the supply of UK calfskins that we are using for the Bookcalf, in that we were unable to obtain good quality skins over the winter. This was due to the UK slaughterhouses being unable to wash and salt skins properly, something the rest of Europe seems to manage without problems. The situation has changed further in the last few weeks, now that the ban on the export of live calves has been removed. We will have to see how the situation pans out, however we intend to be better prepared this coming winter and will try to order up calf ahead of time.

I think that we all realise that the days of the large-scale hand bookbindery are (with a few exceptions) over. This has obviously had an effect on the levels of finished leather that we stock, since the smaller bookbinders tend to order smaller quantities of leather at a time and only when they require it. Unfortunately this causes a conflict between stock levels based on leather turnover and the requirements experienced in our warehouse. After much thought, we have decided on a policy of reducing warehouse finished stock to a smaller level without hopefully having too much of an effect on the stocks that you all expect us to have. Colours 3 (Light Brown), 6 (light Blue) and 9 (Light Green) are not popular colours these days, with the exception of Colour 3 Bookcalf. Our intention is to stop replacing stock in these colours in the pigmented finishes (Smooth and Embossed Goat and Skiver) and in the Chieftain Goatskins. For larger orders of 6 skins or more we would make to order from undyed skins, however as we would hold skins "ready for finishing" the times for making the colours would be shorter than the normal four weeks. These colours are slow moving, so in many cases we have sufficient stocks available to last for many months or years without problems.

For those of you who are regular users of the "online" catalogue, you may have noticed that we have now increased the range of ready-made albums, as these have proved to be very popular.

One noticeable problem we have started to experience is the size of the minimum orders for our sundry products that some of the manufacturers require. To give you some example:

  • The new owner of the forging mold for the backing hammers, requires a minimum production run of 1,000 hammers and we had to order several hundred in order to get them to process our order.
  • For similar reasons, we have just had to order 14,000 No 18 needles - 560 packets - well in excess of a year's sales
  • We have had to reduce the range of Arbetex Leathercloth as the minimum order quantity on some of the shades is now 500m
  • We have had to swap back to the French Style Bandnippers as Shepherds the supplier of the English Style, searchers for a new manufacturer

Finally I hope that you will all pass on your best wishes to Christine Gibbs at Griffen Mill, who is recovering from a nasty car accident. Chris has been out of action for several months and as a result our stocks of papers have suffered slightly. However the good news is that Chris is on the mend, and we hope to be receiving some new stocks of paper in the next couple of weeks.

May I also take this opportunity of wishing you all a very pleasant Summer.


Skin Deep - Volume 21 - Spring 2006

Download Skin Deep - Volume 21 in PDF Format