Walsall Leather Skills Centre founder Patrick Burns with Walsall Business Support board member Rob Colbourne OBE

A training centre specialising in delivering training and qualifications for the leather goods industry has been awarded a £8,500 grant to encourage enterprise and deliver skills for employment.

The Leather Skills Centre has been awarded a £8,500 funding boost from Walsall Business Support to purchase an SAS Fortuna AN 400 leather splitter, a specialist piece of equipment which will be used as part of the training centre’s training and enterprise offer.

The Leather Skills Centre, which is located on Bridge Street, Walsall delivers workshops and a range of accredited qualifications designed for beginners to advanced practitioners, teaching the skills required across the UK’s saddlery and leather goods manufacturing sectors.

The purchase of the leather splitter will benefit learners using the centre to develop their making skills and will also be available for local businesses to use the machinery at a small cost.


The leather splitter is a precise band knife splitting machine for splitting leather and similar materials in the shoe and leather goods industry.  The machine accurately and precisely splits material to as little as 0.6mm and will complement the centre’s existing knife press and other equipment.

Formed by leading local business figures to distribute funds collected from the legacy of Walsall Chamber of Commerce, Walsall Business Support provides grants to applicants who want funding for projects to enhance business life in the borough.

Leather Skills Centre founder Patrick Burns commented: “The funding from Walsall Business Support has allowed us to purchase a specialist piece of equipment which will not only benefit our learners but businesses in the region too.

“Our aim is to give back to the community and provide a resource to those looking to build their skills in the leather industry.

“Our centre is a hub of knowledge and expertise, and we want people to come and learn, share their experiences and get advice from our talented in-house training team. Not every business has the machinery we have, and we want to make it accessible to all.

“In July, we will open our doors to learners from Australia, America and Europe as they embark on a 10-day side saddle course with us. We are excited to be sharing our expertise and knowledge with those looking to enhance their leather working skills.

“Longer term we are keen to invite senior members of the community who have previously worked in the leather trade to the centre. We hope to be able to reminisce and reignite memories of their time spent in the leather industry.”

Walsall Business Support board member Rob Colbourne OBE said: “We are delighted to be able to support the Walsall Leather Skills Centre with the funding they need to purchase the specialist leather splitting machine.

“Walsall is famous for its rich heritage in the leather industry so it’s great to be able to support the centre to continue to offer people specialist training to develop the next generation of saddle makers and leather goods experts in Walsall.”

Walsall Business Support provide grants and a free training needs analysis to businesses looking to generate growth, create employment or shape training opportunities for the borough of Walsall. Using an online form on the WBS website, bids can be submitted by businesses needing investment in a new project or a company wanting to improve skills.