Our story begins with António Nunes de Carvalho, who was born in 1904 and whose life was an unequalled example of business drive and initiative. He founded the company that carries his name, in 1939, after gaining extensive experience working in the tanning industry. The company’s high quality brands and strict production standards are a reflection of the values of its founder, who demanded the highest standards from his employees. At that time, the company’s business was the manual production of leather from sheep and goat skins, for the footwear industry. In 1950, it was one of the first companies to install electricity and industrial machinery in its factory.
The founder's values and drive were continued by his sons António and Fernando, one in the commercial and financial areas, and the other in the area of production and technology. The success of the great founding father was therefore carried on by the joint efforts of his two sons.
António Nunes de Carvalho was a man of enormous initiative.
Founding of ANC sheepskins & shoes.
The António Nunes de Carvalho business was founded in 1939, which was also marked by the outbreak of World War II. At that time, Portugal was in a difficult situation. However, this situation provided the newly formed business with important opportunities, which were eagerly seized. It was this spirit that marked the first decade of the existence of the António Nunes de Carvalho business.
Carlos “Carnica”, one of the first workers in the factory, remembers that they would start working at 8 in the morning, and that everything had to be swept and cleaned before leaving the factory in the evening. At a time when cleanliness was far from being a priority in the tanning industry, António Nunes de Carvalho already stood out. It was not only in matters of tidiness of the work area that the personality traits of António Nunes de Carvalho were evident.
I remember washing the dishes. I even made bread. My father would help at night after working in the factory.
THE FOUNDER’S SON
Portugal was viewed as an emerging market. With its low employment costs, it became an attractive location for the manufacture of leather clothing and footwear, which were labour-intensive processes. The transfer of the footwear industry from the central Europe to the southern Europe, provided the tanning sector with good growth opportunities.
During this decade, the company gradually abandoned traditional production methods and introduced industrial machinery. ANC was one of the region’s first tanneries to install electricity.
António Nunes de Carvalho died at 58, leaving António and Fernando with the responsibility for the continuing success of the family business. This decade was marked by the beginning of great changes worldwide and in Portugal. The economic indicators pointed to above-average growth in developed countries in the south of Europe, and Portugal was viewed as an emerging market.
My father was the secret of Nunes de Carvalho. In those days, he knew how to raise his children.
THE FOUNDER’S SON
LEATHER AS A TREND
A period of greater political and social openness throughout the world. These were years of great changes of mentalities and of a multiplicity of social movements in search of alternative lifestyles. On 25 April 1974, the “Carnation Revolution” opened up the path to the first free elections in Portugal. This was followed by a growth of national consumption and the emergence of new business opportunities.
New machinery, business all over the place and everyone looking for leather.
Head of HR
These were times of great economic prosperity and tanneries certainly experienced their best years ever, with the national footwear industry consuming almost all their production. Nunes de Carvalho entered a significant phase of expansion, at a time in which the first representatives of the family’s third generation began to take their places in strategic areas of the company.
I would go to international fairs, such as the one in Paris, with my father and my uncle. The first time I went, I was 13. They wanted to take me so I could begin to see what it was like.
The Founder’s Grandson
Portugal was going through a time of economic development and social prosperity.
While, on the one hand, some labour intensive traditional activities were being relocated, on the other hand, new opportunities were arising in more technological sectors. It was at that time and above all because of the capacity of the Carvalhos Group to act proactively, by diversifying its business, that gave rise to the creation of Couro Azul in 1989, in order to supply leather for the automotive sector.
Couro Azul was the first Portuguese company in the tanning sector to obtained ISO 9002 Quality Certification.
The greatest boost to the development of innovative technologies and products at Couro Azul came from the automotive sector.
A NEW CENTURY
With the dawn of a new century, Portugal readied itself to bid farewell to the escudo and to adopt the euro as the common currency of the European Union. Nunes de Carvalho focused its production on leather for footwear, working in a premium market, where it also had major international clients. Couro Azul specialized in the automotive sector, continuing its increasingly successful business in the steering wheel leather market, receiving major recognition from the sector’s biggest players worldwide.
The Oak Leather registered trademark is a range of eco-friendly products created from selected raw materials and using production processes with a minimal environmental impact.
At Carvalhos innovation is always accompanied by environmental concerns and social responsability, which always pose a challenge: i.e. how to create leather that not only complies with the technical specifications but is also biodegradable at the end of its life cyle.
75 YEARS OF EXISTENCE
2014, the year in which the Carvalhos Group commemorated its 75th anniversary, coincided with a period of accentuated growth and preparation for future growth that is hoped will be sustainable and long term.
These are 75 years embossed on leather, in memories that will survive time and span generations.