Leather and footwear


Though leather is a traditional material for footwear, few shoes now are made mostly from leather. Leather supply now feeds mainly into the auto industry.

Value proposition

Both leather processing and footwear manufacture have a long history in South Africa and offer opportunities for investment. Footwear, as part of the labour-intensive clothing, textiles, leather and footwear sector is assured of government incentive support.


Linkages with the automotive value chain have sustained demand for industrial textiles, particularly leather products for the export-oriented leather seat cover manufacturing. Tanneries are well equipped and have the skills necessary to produce hides for further processing. The South African government is implementing regulations to protect the local value chain in the leather industry, including a ban on exporting raw bovine hides.

Over the past five years, footwear manufacturing has grown at an average rate of 10% a year, localising 21 million pairs of shoes and boots by import substitution. In July 2017, the National Bargaining Council of the Leather Industry recorded a peak employment figure of around 21 000 in the sector.

Footwear manufacturing capacity enhancement continued increasing the number of factories operating, with annual output of more than a million pairs – from 14 companies producing 50% of local output in 2015 to 22 companies producing 60% in 2016.