Luxury leather traders expand

2011-11-11 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG venture that was inspired by a personal meeting with entrepreneur extraordinaire Richard Branson has seen the opening of its fourth outlet.

Upmarket leather products retailer Hides of Africa opened its newest store in Cascades Centre, which is in the midst of a major revamp.

Co-owners of Hides of Africa Struan and Blake Gilson told The Witness that the opportunity to capitalise on a growing market led to the opening of the new store because, they believe, Cascades is a developing and prominent centre. They also believe that the demand for upmarket leather products is growing in Pietermaritzburg.

During his time as a general manager of a Virgin Active club Struan had the chance to meet Branson, who inspired him to launch his own business.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I remember him saying that it does not matter if you are selling eggs or planes; if you can stand behind your product and you love what you do, back that up with a creative edge and you will have a penny in your pocket.

“He also said turnover is for show, but your operating cost is the determining factor of survival as an entrepreneur,” said Struan.

He is impressed by the recent changes at Cascades. The centre is in the process of a major revamp following its take-over by property developer Rob Alexander of Ducatus Property.

The Gilsons’ business, which produces original handcrafted leather products and supports only locally manufactured products, generates a portion of its sales from overseas markets.

“All animal by-products, including our animal hides, have been obtained through legitimate culling exercises and performed by experienced conservation staff.

“The culling activities are based purely on conservation objectives and conform to legal requirements at all times,” they explained.

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