Inside the century-old tannery in Nigeria supplying some of the world’s most prolific brands

Abu Mubarik April 21, 2022
GB Tannery. Photo credit: CNN

GB Tannery is a leather processing company in Nigeria’s Kano State. The business, which has spanned over 100 years as a third-generation family business, is led by Mustapha Tijjani Sule Garo as its CEO. The company processes goat and sheep skins into finished and crust leather for export.

The medium-sized tannery plant has the capacity to process about 1.5 million pieces of leather per annum and the company’s main buyers are in Europe, North America, the United States and Asia. What is more, the company has supplied some of the world’s most famous brands.

GB Tannery supplies to The Kering Group, which manages the development of a series of renowned Houses in Fashion, Leather Goods and Jewelry: Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Brioni, Boucheron, Pomellato, DoDo, Qeelin, as well as Kering Eyewear. The Nigerian tannery also supplies Inditex in Spain which has brands like Zara.

CEO Garo said that GB Tannery was founded by his grandfather at a time when there was no tannery in northern Nigeria. At the time, he said people were dealing in unprocessed goat and sheepskins. Merchants bought the raw skins and then sold them to the Europeans who also exported to tanneries in England.

Since taking over the company, Garo said he has kept the business competitive in spite of the operation of tanneries in Europe and Asia. “Due to so many years of doing the business, our consumers, our customers have confidence in us and we are investing in technology. We are always ahead of our competitors in terms of quality,” he told CNN’S Market Place Africa.

Currently, Garo said he is working round the clock to expand the capacity of the factory to meet growing market demands. According to him, with the company’s current output, they are unable to meet market demands.

“We are looking at expanding. The more we expand, the more employment we will generate in Nigeria,” he said. Aside from looking to expand to improve capacity, Garo said the company is also digitizing its operations.

“Digitalization has helped us in the way that we can now communicate faster with our buyers and our suppliers. With that [digitalization], we can do a lot of communication on WhatsApp, on Zoom and they [customers] can send us some samples by email.”

Garo said he wants to see GB Tannery as the best tannery in Nigeria in the next five years. And also start producing leather products. He revealed that his outfit has opened talks with some companies in Italy to further this vision.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: April 22, 2022


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