Seven generations. But now the long journey of the Wright tanning dynasty seems destined to stop. Anthony Wright is a tanner, owner of Barrhead Kid Company. He is the grandson and son of tanners. It represents the seventh generation at the helm of the family business, originally born in England, but then moved to Scotland. However, his children will not follow in his footsteps. All this due to the great effort that it is now needed to sell their products, due to the boom in imports from other parts of the world. Especially China.
The Wright tanning dynasty stops
“For a long time, we made the blackest suede comparing to anybody else. We were a big supplier for Marks&Spencer, who used our suede for shoes. But we depended on some large customers, and it was difficult to escape from this – says the 61-year-old entrepreneur to the Sunday Post -. I think the High Street stores deserve everything that happens to them. They took our products, loaded them with price only to try to maximise their profit. They left us jobless and destroyed the industry, but they sold it as a customer choice. Now if China decides to stop making shoes, we will be barefoot in three months”.
Wright runs the tannery opened in Scotland in the 1930s by his grandfather, just outside the city of Uplawmoor. However, the journey into the tanning world of the Wright family begins in England, in Worcester. Here Anthony’s ancestors had opened the first company. Grandfather Percy “opened a tannery where he worked goat leather imported from East Africa, then used to make women’s shoes exported all over the world – continues Anthony from the pages of the newspaper -. He built a very successful business. My father John took over in 1970”. Then it was Anthony’s turn. When he took over the tannery, it still had 50 employees and the hides came from North Africa. Anthony introduced chrome-free tanning and expanded the business by making bespoke bags with his own brand, Barrhead Leather. Products were also made with deer leathers that would otherwise end up in landfills, opposite to what happened in the past when they were used in a much more widespread way. One way to deal with the growing import of finished products from China. But also to keep alive his passion for this job, that he tries to pass on also through courses.