Following the European Outdoor Group’s (EOG) Annual Assembly, the association has provided an update on its portfolio of activities, and changes to its core team and board.
In line with the priorities agreed by its 110 members, the EOG focuses its work on three pillars: Doing business right; preserving the outdoors; and getting Europe active outdoors. Activities are delivered directly and through arms-length organisations and stakeholders, some of which were set up by the EOG, such as the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) and It’s Great Out There Coalition, and others which the association helped to found, including The Microfibre Consortium.
EOG General Secretary Arne Strate commented: “The scale of the EOG’s work has grown significantly in recent years and we are proactively addressing some of the biggest issues that face not only the outdoor sector, but business and society as a whole. Among those are some urgent, huge challenges and as the voice of our industry, we have built internal capacity and kick-started external projects to take the lead. The EOG has a really strong core team, a committed, supportive board, and works with some outstanding stakeholders and partners. Together, we will deliver an exciting, dynamic and vital programme in 2020 and beyond.”
The umbrella purpose of the EOG has recently been articulated in a mission statement that drives all association activity: ‘We are the voice of the European outdoor sector and our vision is to do global, profitable business in a way that gives back more than we take from nature and people.’
EOG Board member and VAUDE CEO Antje von Dewitz explained: “The EOG is not your typical trade association. We are driving change from within the sector, not sheltering it from change. Of course, we have to consider how to develop profitable business models, but we believe that one way to do that is to stay ahead of the curve in our approach to addressing major areas such as sustainability and climate change. Our goal is very ambitious – we are trying to move a whole sector – and we are now working to define how that will be measured. Already, the EOG has committed millions of euros of resource into CSR and sustainability projects, while we believe that outdoor businesses in Europe have collectively invested 100 times that, without any direct return on investment, which is very commendable. It’s the right thing to do and we’re proud to lead the way.”
Antje also revealed that 97 per cent of EOG members have now adopted the association’s Sustainability Charter, committing to pursue best practice in corporate citizenship, responsibility and sustainability. The EOG’s CSR and sustainability work is led by Head of CSR and Sustainability Dr. Katy Stevens and CSR & Sustainability Project Manager Dr. Jane Turnbull, who will now also be supported by Peter Hollenstein, who has joined the team on a consultancy basis. All three will be working with charter signatories during 2020 to help them progress through the three stages towards true sustainability that are outlined in the document.
There were also changes to the EOG board. Vice President Jean-Marc Pambet (Salomon) and Treasurer Eddy Codega (CAMP) stood down at the 2020 Annual Assembly. EOG President Mark Held paid tribute to Jean-Marc and Eddy during the meeting and highlighted the major contributions that they have made to the association during their time on the board.
EOG members approved the appointment of two new board members – Paolo Bordin (AKU) and Guillaume Meyzenq (Salomon). In addition, two members who had been coopted during 2019 were confirmed as permanent members – Nikolai Rabaek Christensen (ECCO) and Benjamin Thaller (OSV). Antje von Dewitz of Vaude was confirmed as the EOG’s new Vice President and Michel Gogniat of Ternua has been appointed Treasurer.
Peter Ottervanger was welcomed as the EOG’s new Head of Retail – well known in the industry from his time as EMEA General Manager for Icebreaker, and he has also had a long and distinguished career with many other leading businesses, including Audi, O’Neill and Sole Technology (a portfolio of surf, skate and snow sports brands).
He commented: “I am particularly proud to work for the EOG and give back some of my 30+ years of experience by engaging, sharing and developing strategies together with the retail members. It’s my belief that the outdoor industry has a unique and purposeful DNA setting us apart from many others.”
The Group also recently conducted a short top-line survey, which was completed by two thirds of its members. When asked their views about the outlook for the industry in 2020, 76 per cent of respondents stated that they expect business to grow compared to last year.
Andrew Denton, Secretary General of the It’s Great Out There Coalition, updated the press conference on the work of the coalition and highlighted the urgent importance of the #itsgreatoutthere campaign.
Founded by the EOG, the coalition is directly addressing the inactivity epidemic in Europe, with three strands of work: Motivating more people to get active through proactive, inspirational communications; directly activating people and projects through a grants programme and EU-funded initiatives; and advocating for outdoor activities in Europe, building partnerships with policy makers and with linked sectors to increase support and funding.
The It’s Great Out There Coalition has been funded by membership fees from outdoor businesses across Europe, and has ongoing support from the EOG.
Since its foundation, the It’s Great Out There Coalition has reached 156m people with positive messages about participation in outdoor activities, and through 17 grant-funded projects, has directly helped 5,260 young people enjoy life-changing experiences in the outdoors. During the press conference, Andrew Denton previewed a new short promotional film about that work and its importance to the outdoor industry and to wider society.