European Outdoor Group leadership changes speak to broader future efforts

The changes just announced in the board of the European Outdoor Group are the first step toward a larger role for the group not only Europe-wide but also in joint work with the United States. SNEWS sat down with new EOG pres David Udberg at ispo for more insight.
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The changes just announced in the board of the European Outdoor Group are the first step toward a larger role for the group not only Europe-wide but also in joint work with the United States.

“There’s a lot to do over the next few years,” new EOG President David Udberg told SNEWS® in an interview at the ispo trade show in Germany just hours after his formal election. Udbert is the managing director of Lowe Alpine in the United Kingdom and also heads product development for packs and clothing. He previously was at Berghaus in the U.K. and has 32 years of experience in the European outdoor industry.

Udberg (pictured right) replaces Rolf Schmid of Mammut Sports Group who has been EOG president since the group (www.europeanoutdoorgroup.org) was founded in 2003. Other changes include Claes Broqvist, international sales director of Switzerland-based apparel company Odlo, who is stepping down as vice president, a role he has also held since the group began. For continuity, both Schmid and Broqvist will remain on the board. In addition, Bernd Kullmann of Deuter is the new vice president; joining the board as new members are Jean-Marc Pambet of Salomon and Eddy Codega of C.A.M.P.

“This is the biggest change” since the group started, Udberg explained.

But these aren’t just about changes in figureheads. The changes represent a look by the EOG at how it will more broadly develop in the future. More geographic and product areas are now represented, duties will be more broadly spread to assure the group is not reliant on any one person or persons, the EOG will network more closely with national associations, and term limits have been set for the first time.

“It’s a good thing that the EOG be refreshed on a regular basis,” Udberg told SNEWS. “While maturity is a good thing, refreshing is nice too.”

Although the new officers have just been announced, the change has been in the works since as early as last summer. Schmid, who was out for a short time over the summer due to an illness, announced in July 2009 at the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen that he would resign. At that time, Mark Held, secretary general of the EOG, began conversations with Udberg about potentially being a candidate for president. Then late in 2009, Held was forced to take a few weeks off for personal reasons, and it became clear that Schmid and Held had done a majority of the work.

“It caused us to think,” Udberg said. “So we also took stock of the board structure, and the objectives for the next three to five years.”

The changes represent or include:

>> for the first time including France and Italy on the board – a large gap that needed filling, Held said.

>> making sure all product lines and industry segments – from clothing and hardware, to packs and shoes -- were represented in companies on the board.

>> giving the task of networking with retailers to each national association, which will then gather any information as needed for the EOG

>> requiring elections every two years and allowing a maximum of two terms for four years as an officer.

>> naming chairpersons for various areas of work. For example, Kullmann will be the liaison to trade shows and retailers; Broqvist will oversee market research and statistics; Pambet will represent the work in the area of sustainability; Codega will work with finances and standards; Schmid will oversee marketing communications; and Udberg will be looking at strategy and government affairs. 

In addition, the group has altered its objectives for the first time since it began, which is a reflection of the changes in the industry and its development since the EOG was founded in 2003. Still included are the basics of promoting the outdoor industry, developing environmental awareness, working with the trade shows on behalf of members and focusing on member interests. (Click here to see EOG objectives.)

To be added, however, are objectives that include:

>> more work on sustainability issues, not only via its own committee but through its newly established joint council with the U.S. group under the auspices of the Outdoor Industry Association. OIA President Frank Hugelmeyer and OIA Vice President of Government Affairs Amy Roberts were at the ispo show to meet with the EOG. “We agreed the council will discuss how we go forward and discuss issues on a global basis,” Held explained. “It’s morphing into a singular effort that’s not OIA or EOG. It’s the right thing to do.”

>> increased efforts on CSR issues. Although debated whether these should fall under the same objective as sustainability, for now they will remain separate, Held said.

>> additional lobbying efforts and meetings with the European Union in Brussels – an effort that has begun but will be strengthened and expanded, and Held will continue to oversee.

--Therese Iknoian

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