Company Support to the UK Leather Trade

The Leathersellers’ Company remains actively involved with the British leather industry, providing funding for technical education, research, and the conservation and display of historic leather items, and supplying representatives to sit on the boards of various industry bodies.

Please click the tabs below to find out more about grants available, as well as existing partnerships.

Should you have any questions please contact the Grants team at

An overview of the British Leather Industry

The British leather industry encompasses all stages of production from production of raw materials to point of sale of finished products to the consumer. The direct supply chain extends across tanners and manufacturers of leather goods, including handbags, luggage, accessories, footwear, garments, upholstery etc., and wider to traders, major brands and retailers.

The value of this supply chain in export terms was nearly £1.5 billion in 2015, up 21.9% from 2011. This figure does not include domestic sales of leather and leather products or exports of products incorporating leather as a non-defining component, e.g. leather used in automotive and upholstery and as such, the value of the British leather industry to the UK economy is greater still.

The industry also employs approximately 8,400 workers, with 1,300 in leather manufacture, 2,600 in leather goods manufacture, 4,300 in the footwear manufacture and 200 in apparel manufacture, across a range of enterprises from micro- to large-sized.

The success of the British industry is predicated on the superior quality and innovation of the leathers it produces. This is reflected in its customers, which are globally recognised high end brands associated with quality products. They include household names such as Nike, Berghaus, Oakley and Clarkes, high end luxury goods manufacturers such as Dunhill, Gucci, Mulberry and Burberry, and quality shoe manufacturers, including the renowned men’s shoe makers based in Northampton, such John Lobb, Edward Green and Church’s.

The UK tanning industry also produces high performance and specification upholstery leathers used in luxury automotive brands, such as Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, Jaguar Landrover and AMG Mercedes, by airlines such as BA and Lufthansa and even on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Many of the brands using British Leather are also based in the UK. Globally-recognised, prestige brands such as Mulberry, Burberry, Aston Martin and John Lobb, are manufacturing British products incorporating British leather and building on a long-standing heritage of quality and performance.

The UK also remains a centre of excellence for education and research in leather; the Institute for Creative Leather Technology at the University of Northampton is recognised as the world-leader in provision of higher education in leather science and technology. There is also a strong heritage sector with the internationally-renowned Museum of Leathercraft and Leather Conservation Centre, also located in Northampton.

There are many initialisms and acronyms used in the leather industry with which you may or may not be familiar. Please take a look at our glossary of acronyms and nomenclature if there is anything that you do not understand.

Please note that this grants programme is now closed for applications. Please sign up for our mailing list here to be notified when this programme reopens.

The Leathersellers’ Foundation offers grants of £5,000 – £10,000 per annum for up to three years to support the training and education of aspiring workers in the leather industry through apprenticeships. We provide these opportunities to sustain vital skills in and contribute to excellence in the tanning (leather) industry in the UK.

Who can apply?
Applications for a Leathersellers Apprenticeship should come from the organisation/master who will be training the apprentice. This could be an application to create a new apprenticeship that has not existed before, or for an existing apprentice programme.

To be eligible you must meet these criteria:
– the organisation is a UK-based small business (definition as provided by Companies House: turning over less than £10.2million, has £5.1million or less on its balance sheet, and has no more than 50  employees on average)
– there is genuine financial need from the employer who cannot access these funds from alternative schemes including those provided by the government
– the apprenticeship will be of benefit to both the apprentice and the organisation
– the apprentice will be aged 18 or over (no upper age limit) and be living and working permanently in the UK
– the apprentice will be paid at least minimum wage (dependent on age) though we would hope some companies were able to provide the Living Wage to their apprentices, or at least reach that point in a staged way over the course of the apprenticeship (£9.50 per hour)

What do we fund?
We offer grants of between £5,000 – £10,000 per annum, for a maximum of a three-year apprenticeship. This should contribute towards the business’ costs of training the apprentice (where possible to gain recognised qualifications) or the apprentice’s salary.

We want to support excellence in British leatherworking, so we are looking for apprentices to be people planning to utilise their skills and stay in the UK to contribute to the leather industry.

How to apply
All applications must be submitted via the online form available by clicking here.
To assist you in preparing your responses you can also download a word version here (but only applications submitted online will be considered).

Applications must be submitted by 5pm on Friday 27th May 2022
These will then be assessed and considered by the Grants team and the Leather Trade Committee.
A decision will be provided by Friday 24th June at the latest. 

Terms of the Grant
Please note that should you be successful in receiving this funding, you will be required to report annually to the Leathersellers against the goals stated in your application. Multi-year funding is paid annually dependent on receipt of a satisfactory report. The Trustees of the Foundation have the discretion to discontinue the award if circumstances require.

Unsure of your eligibility or have any other questions? Please contact Natalia and the Grants team at