Winter 2017

My last column was written in the middle of the summer round of BREXIT negations – it seems to have gone from uncertainty then to downright chaos now.

When I work with politicians in Westminster, I’m left with little doubt that the deal is taking up almost every minute of every department’s time – and right now it’s just the principle that’s being debated and not the detail. Although it’s obviously of huge importance – ultimately it will affect us all – at the moment it’s frustratingly delaying every other decision.

Of course, the longer it goes on, the nearer we get to a general election and a likely Labour government, and that will bring its own challenges to the outdoor sector. To be honest, I’m struggling to put a positive spin on the political situation right now.

Perhaps the best news is that tourism is not as impacted to date as we thought it would be and the economy continues to be reasonably strong. It’s a waiting game, and until we have a clearer message from Brussels and our own government, all we can do is keep in regular contact with all of our departments and continue to push the outdoor message.

On a more positive note, I was pleased with the recent talks with OTS, ROKS and KORS. Despite not managing the fully-unified show we sought, we’ve listened to the retailers and the brands and we’re presenting something now that definitely moves us in the direction they’ve been asking: a single show in the heart of Manchester. Simple to get in and out of, easy to stay locally and transport laid on for retailers from the north and south. It will combine the best of ROKS and OTS and we still hope for more in the future. The new show will take place in the first week of July, immediately after OutDoor.

I’d like to thank both ROKS and KORS for all their help in the conversations. And even though we haven’t ended up with exactly what we’d hoped for, we’ve certainly had a very constructive and positive dialogue. And these talks will continue as we explore new dates, venues and ideas for the future. Rest assured we will continue to work together to get the very best results for the trade.

With that in mind, we are hoping to add a trail running section to the new show, with outdoor trails to test product on, events, speakers and plenty of other reasons to attend. Watch this space.

This issue of OER also sees us launch another major initiative, which we hope will encourage independent retailers to attend our annual AGM and conference in March. Have a look at the offer on page 24 of the latest issue, talk to your suppliers and come along – who knows, you may pick up some gem of an idea that really helps. At the very least you’ll come away inspired, enthused and will have a great time!

Finally, in partnership with Snow Business, we have announced a very informal trade ski day immediately ahead of this year’s ISPO. Anyone that fancies joining us on the slopes can find more details on the OIA website www.theoia.co.uk

I look forward to seeing you at events throughout the winter, or please write to me at andrew.denton@theoia.co.uk

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