ISPO’s Outdoor trade show off to quiet start on Sunday in Munich
The first edition of the Outdoor by ISPO trade show has ambitious plans, and expectations are high too. From Sunday June 30 to the evening of Wednesday July 3, over 1,000 brands specialised in sport and outdoor apparel and equipment are showcasing their Spring/Summer 2020 novelties at Munich’s exhibition centre.
The Bavarian capital is a popular destination for the sport industry, as home to the winter ISPO show organised by Messe Muenchen. Until last year however, the industry’s marquee summer event was held in Friedrichshafen, on the shores of the Bodensee lake in Germany. The location wasn’t the easiest to reach, but it was popular with industry specialists.
Disagreements between the organisers in Friedrichshafen and Messe Muenchen means that the former will still organise a competing event in the early autumn.
Many visitors in the meantime are hedging their bets and staying at home. Some of them because they reckon that Munich, a controversial choice of destination, doesn’t represent the industry's identity. But the majority of visitors, according to the exhibitors FashionNetwork.com met in Munich, preferred to keep their shops open, after a tough trading season, and work at selling their inventory. In particular, many retailers from Italy and the UK seem to have given the Munich show a miss.
As a result, despite the fact that the show’s footwear and small equipment sections were very busy, the majority of the exhibition centre’s nine halls were rather quiet on the event’s first day, notably the section dedicated to camping equipment. And the baking heat was no incentive for visitors to browse the sections outside the halls, which were empty.
Nevertheless, Messe Muenchen's ambitious plans for the event were reiterated on opening day by Klaus Dittrich, the venue's boss, and Arne Strate, general secretary of the European Outdoor Group, the industry’s institutional body. “We must think outside the box,” insisted Dittrich, adding that “we have room to grow with urban brands. Brands which have never entered the outdoor arena, like Billabong and Element.” Or brands like Danner and Topo Designs. However, the urban segment failed to make much of an impact on the show's first day.
Of course, wanting to broaden the sector’s appeal is a praiseworthy goal. The event’s X Industry section for example advocates the forging of new connections between brands, retailers and providers of innovative in-store and digital solutions.
Making way for this kind of innovation, rather than an option, has become a necessity. According to data published by the European Outdoor Group, the sport industry's dynamic trend is stuttering. In 2018, the outdoor sector's sales fell by 1% to €5.81 billion, of which €2.91 billion for apparel and €1.69 billion for footwear. In volume terms, the sector reportedly sold 222 million units in 2018, half of them apparel.
The industry must therefore find new growth drivers, tapping the opportunities afforded by digital tools. It must also win over clients and distribution chains that aren’t recognised outdoor sector operators, implying a genuine cultural change for some.
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