Home Autumn 2019

Autumn 2019

Andrew Denton, CEO of the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA), discusses the importance of coming together as an industry and working with each other to address global issues and challenges

The shows are over – Outdoor Trade Show (OTS), OutDoor by ISPO, Outdoor Retailer and ISPO Shanghai – and all of them are open beyond the closing books of many large apparel brands… So, what are trade shows for if not for reps to show sample rails and retailers to place orders?

Well, that’s a complex answer to a simple question, and depending how cynical you are, and how internal looking, the answers may be very different. When questioned as part of the European Outdoor Group (EOG) Vision 2020 project, over 70 percent of retailers said they found trade shows incredibly helpful, very few of them said they didn’t attend.

Brands whilst often cynical, seem to ultimately share the same view. I met many senior members of staff from major brands “just having a look around” who weren’t actually exhibiting at the show. There were nearly 1,000 exhibitors and 22,000 visitors at OutDoor by ISPO – not bad for the first year they’ve run the show.

So why do folk come? I think the answer lies in the unity of our industry, the willingness to work together, to address global issues and challenges and to try and solve them together. That is a nebulous concept and the answers you hear in the aisles may be simpler – to view prospective brands for the future, to have one last look at a brand before my orders are confirmed, to find new distributors or talk to new retailers about future relationships, to see the press, influencers, athletes and colleagues all in one place. All these little reasons are brought together in the willingness to talk and share and work together.

This is why the OIA will be supporting the new EOG ‘Outdoor Futures’ project, a road map to ensure the outdoor industry in Europe will be net positive, giving back more than it takes out in the next few years. Whether that be carbon or other resource, the goal is for the industry to clearly make a positive impact, above and beyond what other industries may do. How to raise the bar, set our trade up as the poster child of sustainability? How could the ‘Patagonia Halo’ encompass an entire industry?

We will be working with the EOG to publish guidelines on single-use plastic, microfibres and plastics, DWR alternatives, best practice in packaging and POS, and starting a whole new project on circular economy; reusing old and unwanted products, with an aspiration for no outdoor product to go to landfill. It’s a long-term ambitious project and it’s only possible by working together, sharing resource and best practice.

It’s the same reason we helped bring all the UK trade shows together into one hall in Manchester, and in OTS 2019 delivered the most successful UK outdoor show since the heydays of COLA – in collaboration lies our sector success

The OIA is run by volunteer directors and compared to other industries like marine, farming, automotive, etc., the amount of donations we extract from the industry is tiny. Yet with your support we are able to engage, promote and represent you – the outdoor recreation industries – and assist in growing our entire industry sustainably and effectively.

By coming together at trade shows it can show the very best of us, help share the challenges and the opportunities, and enables us all to grow a better industry, together.

Write to me at andrew.denton@theoia.co.uk