The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gucci team on recce

Calcutta, June 16: Two representatives from Gucci, the giants in international fashion business, will be here in July. That is the immediate result of the chief minister’s three-day trip to Italy.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said at Writers’ Buildings today Gucci, which has huge interests in leather, will send representatives to the state to assess its potential as a business destination. He also reminded that the focus of his trip was leather.

Bhattacharjee reiterated what he had been saying in Italy over the past few days when he said the state was “not against globalisation” but investments should develop “mutual interest”. With the Bantala leather complex nearly ready and cheap raw materials and labour available, there was reason to put leather on top of the trip’s agenda.

“Italy has the most advanced technology and design in leather among all European countries, while Bengal is the leading producer of quality leather skin in the country. So, it was like saying — ‘you have the technique and we have raw materials’,” he said.

The chief minister recalled the experience of entering Gucci’s leather factory in Florence. “It was amazing to watch the advanced techniques — imagine cutting leather with water!” he recalled. “During the course of our meeting, they told us they would send a team and even introduced us to those who would come here in July,” he said.

Council for Leather Exports chairman S.S. Kumar signed two MoUs in Italy. One of them was with the association of Italian manufacturers of footwear, leather goods and tanning machinery. “Both (MoUs) were signed with Bantala in view.”

The talks with Gucci will include transfer of technology, tanning, manufacturing, training, designing and packaging. “The associations there and the Gucci authorities are well versed with the developments at Bantala,” the chief minister said.

The other possibility tapped was in fashion. With Rs 200 crore worth handloom, silk and other garments exported to Europe, including Italy, last year, there is a huge potential to increase exports, Bhattacharjee said. Computer-aided designs and vegetable dyes have renewed possibility of a revival in the handloom sector.

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