SCOTTISH Leather Group, the Renfrewshire-based company that operates one of Europe’s largest leather production facilities, has secured a new contract to supply aviation seat covers to China.

Nicholas Muirhead, joint managing director of the venerable firm which can trace its history back to 1840, told the Go Business Radio Show with Hunter & Haughey that pre-pandemic the group had identified an opportunity to work in China, the fastest-growing aviation market in the world.

The company has since set up a factory to manufacture seat covers from leather manufactured and cut in Scotland. “It’s a real testament to the team,” said Mr Muirhead, who is the seventh generation of his family to work for the business.

Scottish Leather Group is the global market leader in aircraft seating, supplying airlines ranging from Ryanair to Emirates. It also supplied the seating for Concorde. Meanwhile, it works with premium brands in the automotive industry including Aston Martin, Jaguar Land Rover and Morgan.

Mr Muirhead also revealed that the business has recently worked on a project with high-end fashion brand Mulberry, famous of its handbags. MPs and members of the House of Lords also sit on Scottish Leather Group’s product in the Houses of Parliament.

Founded by Andrew Muirhead, Scottish Leather Group operates one of the oldest tanneries in Europe and employs 850 people across its three sites in Bridge of Weir, Paisley and the east end of Glasgow.

“We have in excess of 100 vacancies at the moment across operational roles, office-based roles including marketing, IT and finance, to skilled engineers,” noted Mr Muirhead.

A restructure during Covid saw the three divisions of the Scottish Leather Group come together to form one company, added Mr Muirhead who joined the business 15 years after university. “There’s a real warmth to the business,” he told Go Radio host Donald Martin, editor of The Herald and The Herald on Sunday.

“We are still a wholly-owned family business and we restructured during Covid to form a new company to make us more dynamic and fit for the challenges ahead as we emerged out of Brexit and out of Covid.

“While we are family owned but we are not family run,” he explained, noting that joint managing director David Archibald and the company’s chief executive Iain McFadyen are not family members.

Scottish Leather Group sources 15,000 raw hides per week direct from abattoirs across the country. “We have a direct relationship with them and full traceability of our raw material,” said Mr Muirhead. “We are passionate about how we operate and we operate hugely sustainably – we produce the lowest-carbon leather anywhere in the world.”