Ten lucky U.S. retailers are heading to Germany this summer and it isn't just to visit the country's famous Biergaertens. Messe Munich, parent of the ispo winter and summer trade shows held in Munich, Germany, are inviting a select group over to see how business is done on the other coast and expose them to European manufacturers.
"Everybody acknowledges the relevance of international markets, important similarities between U.S. and European products, and interesting relationships to each regional retailing environment. We felt that this project would promote positive discourse on behalf of the outdoor community," ispo show director Peter Knoll said.
Participants in the group represent top managers in large specialty outdoor chains, leading regional chains and key specialty stores. Also on the list are representatives from the specialty buying group ROI and e-tailer Altrec.com. "It wasn't hard to select a list of important owners, CEOs and senior managers. Yet it was very hard to limit the group to 10 members," Dieter Tremp, ispo's senior associate and contact in North America, said.
Retailers will attend the ispo summer trade show, tour retail stores and attend social events. Tremp told SNEWS they want to expose retailers to the business style of Europe and "to further Europe and the European market as topics of interest."
"Some of the retailers may come back and want to do their business a little bit differently (based on what they've seen), or they may feel very good about the way they're doing it. Some of them may say, 'I want to talk to one of my suppliers and say you have different product lines in Europe and I'd like to see those too.' Or they may find a new company (to do business with)," Tremp said.
"I can guarantee they're going to come back with a lot of comments which they will share with manufacturers and whoever else is out there," he said, adding that one retail attendee has already expressed interest in learning from the European businesses and possibly starting an operation over there.
From the retail feedback, Tremp said that the ispo management hopes that Europe becomes a topic of discussion among manufacturers, too. "Success would be for me, if every manufacturer in any management meeting they have will have the topic of Europe on the agenda. They may say, let's go for it or let's not go for it, but keep an eye on it," he said.
Group participants include: Don Burch of Quest Outdoor, John Coffaney of Any Mountain, Denny Feldmann of Galyan's Trading Co., Pete Gilmore of EMS, Rachel Ligtenberg of REI, Dave Matz of ROI, John Mead of Adventure 16, Mike Morford of Altrec.com, Mark Singleton of Nantahala Outdoor, and Jeff Smith of Blue Ridge Mountain Sports.