Abraham de Leeuw starts a trading company in hides in Groenlo, in the East of the Netherlands. In this period of time, the hides are picked up by horse-drawn carriage. The entire production process is very labour intensive; the production is processed manually.


The eldest son Hartog joins the company.


The Germans invade the Netherlands and within the shortest period of time the Netherlands is being occupied. For the Jewish family De Leeuw this has major consequences, the company is obliged to hand over the company to the Germans in that year.


Max de Leeuw and his wife survive both concentration camps and rebuild their lives. The slaughters are scarce just after the war, everything needs to be build up again. For Max de Leeuw, this was an opportunity to start a trading business in Winterswijk in the waste of iron and metal, besides the trade in hides. He manages to bring both companies to prosper.


Max de Leeuw gets reinforced by his eldest son Aart. A few years later, his son Menno also joins the company. Both sons have learned the trade in various places abroad before joining the company.


De Leeuw Huidenhandel is closed down in Groenlo and moves to Winterswijk. The warehouse and terrain in Winterswijk are considerably larger and offers De Leeuw Huidenhandel the possibility to expand. Besides the relocation, De Leeuw Huidenhandel is building a warehouse in Germany together with the Kaufmann company, one of the world’s largest trading companies in hides during that time. Until then, much of the buying and selling was done in cooperation with Kaufmann.


De Leeuw Huidenhandel has a stand in Paris at the fair ‘Semaine de la Cuire’ for the first time. The fair attracts a large crowd and is comparable to today’s fair in Shanghai.


There is a lot of trade with Japan, South Korea, Thailand and West-Europe. Japan is known for producing high quality shoes and bags for women’s wear. In South Korea and Thailand the focus is on the mass production of upholstery leather. There is also a lot of trade with Italy, which production is known for its fashionable production line for shoes, bags and upholstery leather with a new collection every three months.


After years of cooperating with Kaufmann, the business relation ends because of Kaufmann’s bankruptcy. The loss of an important partner provides upscaling and new possibilities for De Leeuw Huidenhandel.


A lot of Dutch hide traders go bankrupt. They are mainly focused on the East European market. Because of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, a huge part of their market is gone. The disappearance of several competitors means a grow for De Leeuw Huidenhandel. One of the big bankrupt hide traders was the Amsterdamse Huidenclub (AHC) in Nijmegen. A large part of the suppliers from the AHC is taken over by De Leeuw Huidenhandel. Aart and Menno decide to buy the AHC from the curator in order to easily intercept the extra production from the new suppliers. Because of the larger production facilities, De Leeuw Huidenhandel attains a huge expansion regarding the automation of the production process. This leads to a large effectivity and capacity, causing a better market position for De Leeuw Huidenhandel in that year. In the same year, 1994, Max de Leeuw pass away.


The veterinary requirements and the legal environmentally requirements become more strict. This leads to significant higher production costs.


A lot of small European tanneries, outside of Italy, are closing down, while large tanneries are reinforcing.


De Leeuw Huidenhandel starts a collaboration with the WUR (Wageningen University). An investigation into a water purification system is started in which sustainability and environment are key. Two years later, De Leeuw Huidenhandel starts a collaboration with the VU (Vrije Universiteit) in order to investigate the company organization. In response to the investigation, an internal quality improvement is made by optimizing the administrative business processes.


Menno’s children joins the company; De Leeuw Huidenhandel N.V., a fourth generation is a fact!


We expect regarding the tanning industry located outside of Europa, is that an important part will return within European borders. The reasons are: quality standards, environmental problems, transport costs and a diminishing difference in wage between Europe and the Far East.