I’ve not long returned from a fairly upbeat OutDoor show in Germany – where us Brits were the butt of a lot of the jokes – our European friends are rather enjoying our turmoil I think.
Frustratingly, it does mean any rational communication with the government is hard right now – they’re in shut-down focus mode and engagement is well down their priority list. Fortunately, the departments we deal with the most: PHE (Public Health England), DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) and Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) are already fairly focused on the outdoors – so we’re maintaining traction at an official level if not a political one. Personally, I’m more worried about the economy and how it will effect sales and exchange rates than I am about political policy over the coming year.
OutDoor was decidedly upbeat though – it was a month earlier than usual but there was a buzz of business and a general feeling that whilst it seemed odd, folk were generally happy with the new dates.
OTS will have come and gone before you read this too, and this has also moved forward in the calendar.
As many of you know, the EOG undertook a huge survey this year in an attempt to find out exactly what brands and retailers are looking for from an outdoor show. The results make interesting reading, and despite the doom merchants, the overwhelming majority (who were worth more than €4 billion of European trade) do want a trade show. They want it right at the start of the season, so buyers can get a complete overview of ranges, colours, trends and directions. And they want it before they do the rounds of the showrooms and place forward orders.
That probably means in Europe we need it during the first week of June. It means we need more open booths with full displays of ranges and a welcoming approach by brands. There was also overwhelming support for events and trend seminars.
The OIA have taken a lot of this to heart and will be trying to develop OTS within our own UK timetables, to fit with some of these findings.
Beyond the shows, September will see the opening of the Outdoors Future Camp and ISPO Academy – a joint initiative between ISPO and the OIA to host a conference for the future leaders of our industry.
Its aim is to inspire, challenge and talk to them, to learn from them and to pass on valuable experience. It’s aimed at anyone who wants to develop a career in outdoor recreation and will run in Sheffield on 6 and 7 September.
I would urge all outdoor businesses to send promising members of staff. It’s an outstanding opportunity to learn, engage and support the future of our industry – it’s in all of our interests!
More details on our website www.outdoorindustriesassociation.co.uk