Inside the outdoor industry

Strate takes a bow as EOG holds annual assembly

Annual market performance indicators also revealed

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The European Outdoor Group (EOG) held its Annual Assembly, attended by representatives of the brands, retailers, technology brands and national associations that make up its membership. During the meeting, the EOG board and executive updated members on a range of issues, and outlined priorities and plans for 2019.

The key topics covered during the EOG Annual Assembly were:

* Organisational changes at the EOG, including the election of a new president and board members

* CSR and sustainability – updates on the association’s single use plastics (SUP) project and work on the issue of microfibres

* Market research – initial indications of the outdoor market’s performance in 2018

* Trade show partnership – an update on the ongoing work with Messe München and plans for OutDoor by ISPO.

Before the Annual Assembly, proposals to expand the EOG board from eight to 12 members were circulated to members. The intention was to extend the depth and breadth of the experience and background of board members, in terms of sectors, geographies and diversity, and better reflect the expanded membership scope of the association. Notice was also given that three board members – Martin Axelhed, Richard Leedham and Stefan Merkt – would reach the end of their term and step down. In addition, John Jansen’s two terms as EOG president would end, though he had agreed to remain on the board. Members were given the opportunity to apply to join the board and also notified that the board would be recommending the election of Mark Held as the new president.

During the Annual Assembly, the proposal to expand the board was approved and Mark Held was confirmed as president. In addition, five new board members were elected:

* Anne Schott, Outdoor Sports Valley

* Matthias Zaggl – W.L. Gore & Associates (he had been co-opted in 2017 and was now confirmed)

* Ryan Gellert – Patagonia

* Michel Gogniat – Ternua

* Oliver Pabst – Mammut Sports Group.

The meeting was also the first attended by Arne Strate since being appointed to the role of EOG general secretary, while new members of the association’s executive team were also at the assembly, namely Dr. Jane Turnbull, head of CSR and sustainability, and Scott Nelson, SUP project manager.

Outgoing EOG president John Jansen commented: “Our members have been presented with a lot of change in the last few months and their support in managing those processes has been invaluable. It has been a privilege to serve as EOG president, but I am very happy to be able to hand over to Mark Held. Mark was an outstanding general secretary for many years and it is extremely good news for the association that he will continue to contribute in his new role.

“The EOG is very grateful for the contributions of Martin, Richard and Stefan on the board, all of whom have been diligent and valued colleagues. Looking forward, I am certainly excited about working with our new board members, providing the direction and support that Arne Strate and his team need.”

CSR and sustainability

The EOG has continued to allocate more resources to a portfolio of CSR and sustainability projects and members were updated on progress with some key issues:

* EOG Sustainability Charter. The charter has now been signed by 75% of EOG members (see separate press release), including every individual member of the Scandinavian Outdoor Group. The aim is to achieve 100% support by the end of the year.

* Microfibres. As well as taking a lead in the Outdoor Industry Microfibre Consortium, the EOG is part of the Cross Industry Agreement (CIA) and has assembled a working group of the world’s leading textile scientists to address the loss of microfibres from textiles into the environment, through the development of a robust test method to measure microfibre loss.

* DEMETO (‘Modular, Scalable and High-Performance De-polymerization by Microwave Technology’) project. The EOG continues to support this project to develop a full scale industrial pilot plant for chemical recycling of PET/Polyester. The EOG is providing feedback to an advisory board, conveying opinions and brand requirements to help shape the technology and its performance into a viable technology as a step towards a more circular economy for polyester, a fibre widely used in the outdoor industry.

* SUP project. Led by the EOG’s retail consultant Anny Cardinahl and SUP project manager Scott Nelson, this initiative is exploring options for removing single use plastics from the outdoor industry supply chain. An extensive research phase is underway, with active support from the association’s retail members, and there will be more focus on this area of work throughout 2019.

Market research

EOG members were presented with results of a new survey of association members, providing a first indication of market performance in 2018. The survey was completed by over half of the EOG membership and represents the brand sell-in (wholesale) view of 2018. Key findings of the research include:

* Year on year performance. When asked how outdoor performed in 2018 compared to 2017, the picture is quite positive with 60% saying that overall the market performed better. However, the market sentiment is more cautious than from the same time last year, with 27% stating that their markets are down, compared to only 3% last year.

* In the three main categories, there were differences in the market development in 2018. Hardware outperformed apparel and footwear, with only 10% expecting sales to have decreased year on year in hardware, compared to almost 40% in apparel and footwear.

* In 2018, Europe experienced an exceptional heatwave and this had a polarised impact on the market. 40% of survey respondents stated that this impacted sales in a negative way, but in contrast sales increased for 30%. Members shared feedback on the products that sold well and the products that struggled as a result of the heatwave.

* In terms of how the winter season for 2018/19 has performed so far, again feedback is mixed. Overall, compared to 2017/18, the general view is that the season has not been as strong. Alongside figures from the survey, comments from members suggest a tougher season compared to last winter.

* Although definitive figures for 2018 will not be available for some months, as a reminder, the wholesale market was valued at €5.6bn in State of Trade 2017. A clear picture will only emerge once State of Trade 2018 figures are published in the summer, the indications are, based on this survey and the general feedback of EOG members, that there will be a return to lower single digit growth, more in line with 2016 and 2015.

Along with its ongoing market research projects, the EOG has run a pilot with its retail members for the last 18 months collecting point of sale figures (POS) for a number of metrics. Based on its success so far, this project will now be opened up to brands with retail and to non-members. To take part or find out more please e-mail pauline.shepherd@europeanoutdoorgroup.com and/ or anny.cardinahl@europeanoutdoorgroup.com.

Trade show partnership

The EOG updated members on its partnership with Messe München, including a progress report on plans for OutDoor by ISPO by Tobias Groeber and Markus Hefter from the messe. More details about this will be revealed by the OutDoor by ISPO team during a press conference on Monday 4th February.

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