Adidas-Solomon And Kohl’S Join Burgeoning Leather Boycott

For Immediate Release:
31 January 2002

Dawn Carr – 0208 870 3966

Mumbai — Sure to dampen the enthusiasm of attendees of the International Leather Fair opening in Chennai today, the already-flailing Indian leather industry is about to reel under yet another blow in the form of additional revenue losses. The world’s second-largest maker of sporting goods, Adidas-Solomon, has pledged not to use any leather originating in India or China until the countries crack down on transport- and slaughter-related atrocities against cows, buffaloes, goats and other animals used in their leather industries. The Indian leather industry, already plagued by complaints of slave-like conditions for workers and toxic chemical pollution, as well as by PETA’s boycott, has suffered losses currently pegged at about US$40 million (Press Trust of India).

In a letter to PETA dated 29 January 2002, the Germany-based company writes, ‘This can be considered a pledge from Adidas-Solomon and all its brands not to buy raw leather hides from [India and China]—at least until you can assure that … animal protection laws are enforced.’ Kohl’s Corporation, which operates 380 department stores in the US, has announced that it will no longer use leather obtained from Indian animals, at least until conditions for them improve.

UK-based Clarks, one of the largest casual-shoe companies in the world and among one of the first companies to boycott Indian leather, has increased pressure on the Indian government by sending a letter to Prime Minister Vajpayee asking him to pass amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 that would strengthen penalties for animal abuse. The company has also written to the minister of commerce and industry, Murasoli Maran, urging him to encourage state governments to develop and implement plans to make transport and slaughter a more humane affair. Gucci Group, Nike and Reebok are among the other giants that vowed not to support the Indian leather trade after Clarks’ announcement of the same.

Despite the steep, unprecedented drop in leather sales, India’s Council for Leather Exports (CLE), which functions under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, continues to sidestep the issue of animal cruelty. The Indian leather industry is in disgrace internationally for breaking promises, making excuses and abusing a one-year moratorium on anti-leather activities that it had requested in order to take action—action that never came. The CLE has barely addressed the rampant overcrowding of animals in transport and charges of inhumane slaughter at India’s legal abattoirs and has refused to acknowledge the estimated 32,000 illegal, unlicensed slaughterhouses in the country. Despite assurances of monthly ‘progress reports’ from CLE, PETA has not received an update on its implementation of reforms since May 2001, and plans outlined in the reports were never put into effect.

In defiance of Indian law, corrupt traders march cows, buffaloes, goats and other animals for days before cramming them into overcrowded trucks, which causes many to suffer broken bones and suffocation. Those who collapse from exhaustion or injury have their eyes smeared with chilli peppers or tobacco and their tails broken to keep them moving. At all municipal abattoirs, the animals typically have their throats hacked with dull knives in full view of each other and are skinned—often while still alive. In China, even dogs and cats suffer and are slaughtered for their skins, skins marked as other animals’ hide and sold to the West.

Adidas-Solomon’s pledge to join the boycott, which includes both India and China, is the first by a German company. Germany is the world’s single largest importer of Indian leather. A total of 70 per cent of all Indian leather and leather products are destined for the EU.

‘These companies are sending a clear, strong message to leather industries worldwide that consumers are increasingly recognizing the connection between leather and the misery of the abattoir and that senseless, needless animal abuse will not be tolerated,” says Poorva Joshipura, PETA’s research manager.

For copies of the companies’ letters, please contact PETA. For more information, visit our Web site