Publisher of leading trade magazines for the Footwear, Leather-goods, Leather & PPE industries

Tops: Processing lower crocodile skin grades for local leather goods market, aimed at tourists

Published: 22nd Feb 2024
Author: By Wilson Mutale; Tops Exotic Leather Tannery

Leather technician Wilson Mutale set up his own business after 30 years working for other tanneries.

Kafue, Zambia – Topsoil General Dealers was registered as a company in 2009 as a raw hides and skins trading company.  The company supplies good quality raw hides and skins to local tanneries to be processed into leather as a way of value addition.

The raw hides not fit for leather processing are sundried and exported for food to the West African market.

In 2021 the company opened a small-scale leather processing unit called Tops Exotic Leather Tannery to convert raw hides and skins into leather to support the development of a strong base of value addition at home instead of exporting raw hides and skins.

The company has continued to invest in the tannery in order to make it a fully-fledged tannery. Currently, the basic installed tanning capacity is 300 skins per month. 

The basic tannery is processing mainly crocodile skins since we have been contracted by the Crocodile Farmers’ Association of Zambia to tan and finish the lower grade raw crocodile skins.  This is in line with the express wishes of the government to add value to locally produced agricultural products and leather value addition is one of the focal points of the government’s wishes.

Crocodile skins produced at Tops Exotic Leather.

The crocodile farmers have continued to export the higher-grade raw crocodile skins to the world's major fashion houses because at the moment we do not have the expertise and modern machinery to derive the full value of these skins.

However, by having the lower grades tanned in Zambia, the farmers have started to produce simple goods such as belts, wallets and ladies’ purses at their workshop.  These goods are sold on the local market targeting mainly the tourism market, and some are being exported. 

It's my business.  I am a leather technician by profession.  I worked for Bata Shoe Organisation for 20 years at Kafue Bata Tannery in Zambia from 1983 to 2003 before joining Zamleather Limited in 2004. I left Zamleather in 2013 to set up my own business.  

Crocodile skins awaiting processing

Some of the equipment.

Lower grade hides and skins sundried for export to West Africa as food.

The outside of the factory

Footwear Industry Articles

Leather Industry Articles

PPE Industry Articles

© S&V Publications
This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more
Untitled Document