European Outdoor Group names Mark Held as director

After searching for an executive director for the entire first year of its existence, the European Outdoor Group has found one under its nose.
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After searching for an executive director for the entire first year of its existence, the European Outdoor Group has found one under its nose.

Mark Held, now U.K.-based product and marketing director for Lowe Alpine, will take over the reins for the European Outdoor Group (EOG), following his departure from Lowe on March 31. His move comes only three weeks after Italy-based Lowe owner Asolo announced it would relocate Lowe's international operations from the United Kingdom to a newly constructed facility near the Asolo Group headquarters in Italy with the U.K. facility becoming a subsidiary of Lowe Alpine.

Held, now EOG vice president and therefore a member of its executive board, will relinquish those positions to begin his role with the EOG as of April 19, running the group both from his U.K. office and the group's office in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The EOG was formed in February 2003 from the so-called "Fachgruppe Outdoor" (Outdoor Trade Group) with the goal to represent and to serve the overall European industry.

"My overriding goal is to raise the professionalism of the outdoor industry within Europe," Held told SNEWS®, calling the industry there "fragmented." He also said he wanted to help the industry deal with issues, such as widespread counterfeiting, that are more easily confronted as a group, and that he would implement market research to support industry informational needs and growth.

As a member of the EOG's executive board, Held has long been viewed as a person who balanced the widely recognized views of Vaude CEO and EOG co-founder Albrecht von Dewitz staunchly supporting the OutDoor show's home in Friedrichshafen. Held said he remains an advocate of Messe Muenchen, the group that runs the ispo sporting goods show in Munich, to take over the OutDoor show and move it to Munich, while keeping it separate from ispo. Still, the EOG has an agreement with Friedrichshafen that will keep the show there "as long as it continues to be a success and to grow," Held said. The EOG is working with Friedrichshafen show management on transportation, hotels and other infrastructure needed to make the location more acceptable to those outside Germany and Switzerland.

"This means I'm still a moderating voice, and I'm not afraid to stand up and say, 'No, now stop it,'" said Held about his new role. "My goal is to promote unity in the trade and common understanding and to get things sorted out to everybody's satisfaction."

"Internationalizing" the EOG will also be part of his job, he said. Currently, the group consists of representatives from Arc'Teryx, Berghaus, Deuter, Columbia, Ferrino, Helly Hanson, Jack Wolfskin, Lafuma, Lowa, Mammut, Meindl, Odlo, Patagonia, Petzl, Salewa, Schoeffel, The North Face and Vaude. Lowe Alpine will replace Held's position on the committee with another Lowe representative, but the committee will vote on which of its members will join the executive board. The board has been made up of Mammut CEO and EOG co-founder Rolf Schmid as president, Held as vice president, von Dewitz as treasurer and Berghaus rep Tony Woods as secretary. Held said he expected the vote to occur at this summer's OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen July 22-25.

Held has worked in the outdoor industry for two decades. Before his job at Lowe Alpine, he was business development director at Berghaus. He also previously worked at Mammut.

Schmid said in a statement about Held's appointment: "Globalization is providing ever new challenges for the industry and we see it as vital that the EOG has a hard hitting agenda that keeps us one step ahead on issues such as legislation, environment, market data and governmental representation. Mark's appointment is a senior one and represents our commitment to making the EOG work."

SNEWS View: This is a wise choice for the first leader of the EOG -- someone not from the core German-speaking countries but nonetheless a part of the industry. Apparently, this has been a post that Held has discussed with Schmid for a number of months, but suddenly everything clicked to make it work. Perhaps Held can, in his no-nonsense British way, work to smooth over differences in the group about where and how the OutDoor show should be run and can view the location of the OutDoor show with less emotion and more practicality. That's direly needed for the show to survive and to thrive.

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