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ICM boss meets Mr Lu

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Irish Country Meats (ICM) boss, Joe Hyland, with one of his most important customers for sheep pelts, Michael Lu

Irish Country Meats (ICM) boss, Joe Hyland, with one of his most important customers for sheep pelts, Michael Lu

Irish Country Meats (ICM) boss, Joe Hyland, with one of his most important customers for sheep pelts, Michael Lu

Twenty years ago Mr Lu moved from trading in hides to operating his own tannery. Today he employs 10,000 across two sites, specialising in sheep pelts. wHis company, Henan Prosper now supplies leather to all the biggest fashion houses in the world, including Gucci, Armani, Ferragamo and Chanel.

"My wife only wears Chanel," said Mr Lu, half joking, all in earnest when I met him at a reception hosted at the Irish Embassy in Beijing.

In addition, Mr Lu supplies all of the leather for the world famous Ugg boots, the vast majority of which comes from Irish sheep via ICM.

"Irish pelts are super quality, they are just right.

"New Zealand pelts are too wrinkly and better suited to nappa leather used in lining shoes and handbags," continued Mr Lu.

"Australian sheep often don't have the right type of wool, too fine. But the Suffolk cross in Ireland is perfect. And it is the best size at 7.5sq ft, compared to 6.5sq ft for a British or a New Zealand hide," added Mr Lu.

Indo Farming