Inside the outdoor industry

Q&A: Eagles Nest Outfitters

Burton McCall's Dan Mapleston tells us more about its new hammock range...

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Founded in the summer of 1999, Eagles Nest Outfitters began as a small operation in Florida with a big plan to travel the East Coast in a ramshackle minivan and sell hammocks at music festivals and community gatherings along the way.  

In a short time, with more business than could be handled from the van, and weary from a life on the road, roots were laid down in North Carolina and the firm can now lay claim to being the industry’s leading provider of  parachute hammocks.

Burton McCall took on UK distribution of the brand last year and we caught up with senior brand manager Dan Mapleston to find out more about the product range.

I believe there’s a bit of an unexpected back-story to Eagles Nest. How did it get started?

Eagle Nest Outfitters (ENO for short) may be the category leader now, but they came from very humble beginnings! Starting out in 1999 as a tiny company in Florida, two brothers decided to travel up and down America’s East Coast in a ramshackle old minivan, proudly selling their hammocks.

At what point did ENO become a ‘proper’ business?

As demand picked up, Peter & Paul realised that they could no longer run their business out the back of a van. They decided to set up their headquarters in Asheville, North Carolina. Their small home-grown business eventually grew into the industry’s leading provider of parachute hammocks, and is also well known for their ongoing commitment to environmental conservation projects. In 2018, ENO announced their membership of ‘1% for the Planet’, and that they will also be planting two trees for each hammock sold via ‘Trees for the Future’.

Was it the outdoor industry that first embraced the product?

Surprisingly, ENO originally started by selling hammocks at music festivals. These customers really valued the comfort, quality and compact pack-size of their products. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before word spread and outdoor enthusiasts were also seeking out ENO hammocks.

What sets ENO apart from other similar products?

A few things: (i) colour range, (ii) high-quality nylon taffeta fabrics, (iii) triple-stitched seams, (iv) custom carabiners, and (v) tree-friendly suspension systems.

How has the brand developed internationally?

ENO was originally largely focussed on the US where they have a dominant share of the domestic market. More recently, that success has created the opportunity to expand internationally and focus on new markets – especially Europe.

What sort of difference has it made to sales adding the stands/pods etc?

We’ve had interest in the large stands from retailers who want to demonstrate ENO at shows/events to boost their sales, or those who physically have the space to have a hammock up in-store. When summer arrives we’re also anticipating interest from consumers who may want to set up a hammock or two in their back garden on a sunny afternoon.

Why Burton McCall?

ENO came to Burton McCall largely because we are a multi-channel distributor with a strong focus on outdoor brands. This fits well with how they have domestically moved hammocks from being seen as ‘just’ a bushcraft product into the more general outdoor living category.

What are your plans for expansion now?

Burton McCall is initially focussing on the outdoor channel, but we hope to sell relevant ENO products into other areas to grow brand awareness and demand across all channels – which is how the brand has succeeded in the US. We’re optimistic that in time, ENO will be a well-recognised brand with anyone who enjoys relaxing in the great outdoors.

What has the reaction been like from the UK market?

The warm weather is only just arriving, but we’ve already had a fantastic response! Buyers generally were delighted to see hammocks in a range of colours other than just olive green: it really opens up the visual appeal, fun factor and sales potential for the category. We’ll continue to grow and develop the UK range based on the feedback from our retail partners each year.

 What is the best seller for you in the UK?

The DoubleNest hammock (left), which is also the best-seller globally. It’s the perfect size: roomy for one, and cosy for two.

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