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The Fur Trade Today - 03/01/06

Published 03/01/06

January, traditionally one of the three biggest months in fur retailing, turned out to be a disappointment for most American retailers, who attributed the poor showing almost entirely to the mild temperatures that prevailed throughout the month. But, while the January figures may adversely affect the results for some retailers whose fiscal year ends Jan. 31 or later, most of those who operate on a calendar-year basis are reporting 2005 was a winner. And January’s softness is not causing much moaning and groaning, considering that the inventory being carried over probably will be worth more than what the retailers paid for it.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 02/06/06

Henig Furs is continuing to expand its operations throughout the Southeast. The Montgomery, Ala.-based retailer has taken on the departments in two more Belk’s stores as a result of that organization’s recent purchase of the Proffitt’s and McRae’s department stores. The new units are in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Jackson, Miss., respectively. Both were formerly operated by BCI. Henig now has the leases in more than 20 Belk’s stores as well as shops under its own name. The furrier plans to take on six more Belk’s departments this year, which will give it more than 40 locations.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 02/06/06

Italy announced Monday that it has temporarily suspended imports of seal skins and seal derived products

Italy announced Monday that it has temporarily suspended imports of seal skins and seal derived products. Adolfo d’Urso, the Italian vice-minister for Trade and Industrial Affairs, announced the moratorium today at a press conference in Rome with the Anti-Vivisection League (LAV), Italy’s leading Italian animal welfare organization.

Today’s announcement from Rome assured that no import licences would be granted for seal products in the coming months. In addition to the temporary ban, a legislative proposal to permanently prohibit all commerce in seal skins and seal derived products also was introduced into the Italian parliament. That proposal is supported by the government coalition and is designed to complement the existing import ban on cat and dog fur.

Source: Spero News, 02/13/06
(See also HSUS Press Release, 02/13/06)

The International Fur Trade Federation, which works to protect and promote the trade around the world, is looking for ways to insure its own viability. The organization, which represents some three dozen trade associations in 30 countries, derives much of its income from a levy at the auction level. However, the recent growth of fur farming in China, Russia and Eastern Europe has resulted in many furs being sold privately, outside the auction system. It is estimated that, of the current annual world production of 42 million mink, about 17 million are escaping the levy. This was discussed at a recent IFTF council meeting, where it was noted that steps are being taken to address the issue. A special board meeting has been scheduled for May to brainstorm how to broaden the levy scheme.

The organization also outlined its promotion program for this year, which will include ads in 24 autumn-winter editions of international fashion magazines. Delegates also were brought up to date on this year’s international design competition and other PR plans. A new committee was formed for animal rights and political issues. There also were reports on the European Union’s delay in implementing the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards, Greenland’s recent decision to ban the import of Canadian seal products and on the work of Fur wRaps the Hill.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 02/13/06

WINDOWS 2006: No, not a Microsoft program, but the Fur Council of Canada’s concept of window displays it is offering free to retailers promoting its “Beautifully Canadian” label. So far, reports FCC, a dozen American and Canadian retailers have signed up for the program, in which the council will cover the fee of a professional display artist and other expenses related to the program. The campaign, which includes hangtags, counter cards, posters and other materials, promotes the history and culture of the Canadian fur trade. It is part of a global branding and image-building strategy in a move to protect its domestic and export markets from intense offshore competition (SPR, 11/14/05). For further info: (514) 844-1945 or teloy@furcouncil.com.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 02/13/06

Fur from cats skinned in Asia may be adorning clothes sold in Canada

The fur was flying outside the Chinese Consulate on St. George Monday, February 6, over China’s involvement in the skinning of dogs and cats for fur for export.

About two dozen animal rights protestors from Canadians Against Dog and Cat Fur (CADCF), some of whom brought their pooches, took part in the international day of protest to urge a boycott of all goods made in China until it enacts a ban on the dog and cat fur trade and the live skinning of any fur-bearing animal.

According to CADCF, more than 2 million cats and dogs are rounded up and slaughtered for their fur, mainly in China, but also in Thailand, the Philippines and the Czech Republic.

The Fur Council of Canada, meanwhile, says it doesn’t use domestic cat and dog hair and insists it has a monitoring system that ensures animal fur is correctly labelled.

The council’s executive VP, Alan Herscovici, calls animal rights activists’ condemnations “cultural imperialism trying to make [Chinese fur traders] sound barbaric.”

“In North American shelters, we euthanize millions of dogs and cats — we’re wealthy enough to throw them away. But in parts of China dog is regarded as prized meat.”

Source: NOW Toronto, 02/16/06

N.S. mink farming industry to get $4 to $5 million in assistance

Nova Scotia’s mink farming industry is about to get a $4 to $5 million boost.

The province is contributing close to $1 million to a model mink ranch and breeder facility in Shelburne County. Private investors are contributing $1 million and the balance is coming from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Up to 150 news jobs could be created.

Southwestern Nova Scotia is one of the largest mink producing regions in Canada.

The first training facility is expected to be located in the Clyde River area, near Barrington.

Source: Nova News Net, 02/17/06

Tibetans Respond to Dalai Lama’s Call to Burn Animal Skins

Dharmsala, India — Thousands of Tibetans have burned rare animal pelts and skins in response to a call by the Dalai Lama, their exiled spiritual leader, to give up products from endangered animals, Tibetan exiles said Friday.

But the move has raised the ire of the Chinese authorities, who have arrested nine people for “colluding with the Dalai Lama,” an Indian animal rights group said. The Chinese government reportedly banned the burnings last week.

Source: Associated Press, 02/17/06

Elsewhere, the current retail fur season is being described as spotty, decent in some markets, sluggish in others. This winter’s variable weather has had both positive and negative effects on fur sales. Reports from Spain, Scandinavia, France and some Eastern European countries have largely been favorable, but Germany and Italy are still said to be struggling with economic problems and their fur trades are becoming more and more export-oriented. Russia, for example, is now a principal target for Italian manufacturers, particularly those with designer labels or who are recognized for their own fashion flair.

In the United States, following a weather-related disappointing January, retailers said they were experiencing a normal February so far. This traditionally is a month in which they conduct year-end clearance sales in hopes of trimming their inventories to make room for fresh merchandise for the following season. This year, however, most say they are being less aggressive in their promotions because of the rising market. The general sentiment is “why should I give goods away when it’s going to cost me more to replace them?” Most expect to carry over less inventory than they did a year ago — which they were able to sell more profitably — and anticipate doing at least as well with what they’re holding now. Last week’s record snow storm that crippled movement in the Northeast section of the U.S. apparently had little effect either way on fur sales, having occurred on a Sunday. Most stores, including those in hardest-hit New York City, were open the following day and local public transportation was close to normal.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 02/20/06

An interesting parallel to a fur trade situation developed last week, when agents of the European Commission and the U.S. Justice Dept. raided the offices of air cargo carriers on both sides of the Atlantic. They were looking for evidence of a broad price-fixing cartel. According to the EC, there was “reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated laws which prohibit practices such as price-fixing.” This was echoed by the DOJ, which described the inquiry as industry-wide. Neither named the companies involved, but American Airlines has admitted being subpoenaed and at least five others, including British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM and Cargolux, have said they are cooperating with European investigators. The case is of interest to the fur trade not only because much of its shipments are by air, but also because of the implications the EC-DOJ cooperation could have for their own industry. As previously noted, the ongoing DOJ fur trade investigation has already produced one indictment and a number of overseas buyers are concerned about returning to the U.S. for fear of being detained for hearings.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 02/20/06

Imports of fur apparel into the U.S. declined in value last year, despite substantial price increases over the previous year, which would indicate the number of units imported was down even more. According to Commerce Dept. data released last week for calendar 2005, imports from all sources dipped 8% following five years of increases. The downturn reflects the conservative buying policy adopted by the American trade last year as a result of heavy inventory carryover from the previous year, as well as apprehension over consumer reaction to the substantial price increases that had taken place. This also was the third consecutive year that mink imports were exceeded by those of other furs. This, too, was at least partly attributable to mink’s strong price advances.

Total imports from all sources amounted to $264.9 million, compared with $287.5 million the previous year.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 02/20/06

Kristin Davis’ chinchilla nightmares

As an animal rights activist, Kristin Davis who played idealistic Charlotte York on HBO’s hit TV series Sex and The City has chinchilla nightmares.

Kristin, reportedly had nightmares when she was required to wear a real fur cape on the popular TV series.

As a staunch animal rights activist, she faced difficulty during the shoots that frequently showcased couture minks and fox stoles.

Source: www.monstersandcritics.com, 02/21/06

[Alaska Brokerage International, Inc.] had been indicted by a federal grand jury (SPR, 01/23/06) and an arraignment was scheduled for Feb. 16 in Seattle. The indictment, naming the New York brokerage and David Karsch, its vice-president, charged them with conspiring with others to rig the bids on otter pelts in February 2004. These are the first charges to be filed as a result of the investigation, which first came to light when subpoenas were served on buyers attending the Legend sale in May 2004. Although many buyers in North America and elsewhere are said to have complied with the DOJ’s request for all records of their transactions for the previous four years, no charges have been filed involving mink or any other fur. The Alaska Brokerage arraignment has been postponed to March 2 at the request of the company, the DOJ confirmed.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 02/27/06

A total of 37 young designers from 16 countries have entered this year’s competition organized by the International Fur Trade Federation in partnership with MIFUR. Each was asked to explain what he or she drew inspiration from to create their garment. In addition to musical genres, designers listed the French Revolution, the 1930s and 1950s as some of the historical periods that inspired them, while others looked to natural forces like the Caribbean Sea and snowscapes. The entries will be assessed by an international panel and three finalists will be chosen to present their designs to a smaller jury during the Milan fair. In conjunction with this event, IFTF and MIFUR have commissioned Future Concepts Lab to research the many influences that characterize the choices and imagination of young people today. The report will identify the ‘languages’ young people use to express themselves, be it through music, fashion, photography or new technology. The results will be released at MIFUR to coincide with the finale of the competition.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 02/27/06

The recent designer showings of their fall ready-to-wear collections in New York’s “Seventh-on-Sixth” presentation included many furs and fur-trimmed items. The Saga organization can claim credit for at least 30 of those designers having included furs in their presentations. But this is nothing new for an organization that has pioneered in introducing designers to fur by bringing them to its design center in Vedbæk, Denmark, to teach them how to handle fur, which has resulted in many ready-to-wear designers having since included furs in their collections.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 02/27/06

McCartneys to observe seal pups before hunt

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney and his wife Heather are set to visit the Maritimes later this week to observe harp seal pups prior to Canada’s annual seal hunt.

The Humane Society of the United States says the celebrity couple will highlight the work of animal protection groups that oppose the hunt.

The McCartneys, who are long-time animal rights activists, will take the trip on Thursday and Friday to “highlight the work of two animal protection groups to stop the Canadian seal hunt,” the society said in a release.

“Heather and Paul’s visit to the seal pups will shine a global media spotlight on this cruel and needless slaughter,” said Rebecca Aldworth, the society’s director of Canadian wildlife issues.

Source: www.ctv.ca, 02/28/06

Southampton passes animal trap ban

Long Island, NY — The Southampton town board yesterday got a standing ovation after it unanimously passed a ban on the use of body-gripping animal traps on town-owned property, including parks and nature preserves.

Just before the vote, Supervisor Patrick Heaney added “Zephyr’s Law” as the name of the regulation, to honor the mixed-breed pit bull killed by such a trap as he walked in the woods near a hiking trail in December.

Source: Newsday, 03/01/06
(see also API’s Press Release, 02/28/06)

Gray seal hunt short of quota

The annual grey seal hunt wrapped up at midnight with less than half of this year’s quota taken.

Frank Ring of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says two dozen hunters, including a few from P.E.I., took part in the hunt in the Northumberland Strait.

“There was a total allowable catch of approximately 2,100 animals, and out of that there was less than 1,000 taken,” says Ring.

“They were being very selective, just taking animals that are at a stage that they’re the most value in terms of fat and fur, which is called the beater stage. In essence they are fully self-sufficient juvenile animals.”

Ring says the grey seal hunt is a rather new commercial fishery. The pelt of the grey seal is quite valuable and the fat is used in products such as seal oil capsules.

Source: CBC News, 03/01/06
(See also HSUS press release, 02/16/06

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