The ispo trade show in Germany has acted upon the unanimous recommendation of its industry advisory board and announced new winter show dates beginning with the 2006 show -- dates that slide up to a late January start in even years.
In 2006, the show will run Jan. 29 to Feb. 1, with the 2008 show also scheduled to begin the last Sunday in January. The odd years -- 2007 and 2009, announced so far -- will begin a week later, on the first weekend in February. The 2005 dates remain unchanged with the show to begin on Sunday, Feb. 6.
This announcement of new dates came as a surprise to many U.S. companies as they had just been told in a December 2003 press release, "ispo winter will always start on the first Sunday in February."
The December press release from ispo went on to say, "The newly announced date pattern is of particular interest to the North American specialty outdoor industry, which saw a date overlap between Salt Lake-based OR Winter Market and ispo winter in 2003 and 2004 following the move of the SIA Snow Show into the same time window."
SNEWSÂ® was told by insiders close to members of the advisory board that the recommendation to move show dates forward is because the earlier timing is better for the industry's buy/sell cycle and now made possible with the EU-dictated 2005 abolition of mandatory time windows for seasonal clearing sales.
The ispo advisory board is made up of representatives from all areas of the overall European sports industry including representatives from buying groups such as Intersport and Sport 2000, manufacturers and retailers associations, sporting goods and retail such as Karstadt and Kaufhof, sports specialty stores such as Sporthaus Schuster, and manufacturers such as Asics, Salewa, Lowa and Schoeffel.
"Obviously ispo's first concern is always to create the absolutely best forum for the sports specialty markets in Europe, but it would clearly be too bad if this move for good European reasons would meet with conflicts in the U.S. and create challenges for some exhibitors," Dieter Tremp, ispo's U.S.-based senior associate, told SNEWSÂ®.
"The potential date overlap (with Outdoor Retailer Winter Market) was considered by the advisory board, but of course, OR hasn't officially announced any dates yet and ongoing outdoor/ski talk about possibly switching dates, locations and more may well result in a non-conflicting date solution here in the U.S.," added Tremp. "I just hope that U.S. organizers will give active consideration to the important European market in their decisions as well. I believe that many U.S. companies could be extremely successful across the Atlantic."
Any illusion that Outdoor Retailer may be actively looking to move its dates, however, were quickly shot down by Peter Devin, group show director for Outdoor Retailer.
"ispo is hopefully doing what they feel is best for their market, as they should do. For Outdoor Retailer, this past Winter Market's attendance and success indicated that the timing during that last weekend in January appears to be right on for over 4,921 outdoor- focused buyers, dealers and media that attended and conducted their business. We're committed to that same timeframe for the Winter Market Outdoor Retailer shows going forward," said Devin.
SNEWSÂ® spoke with a number of major exhibitors who attend both Outdoor Retailer and ispo, and each one of them indicated the decision to move and perhaps overlap Winter Market would have little or no impact regarding exhibitor participation at either shows, simply because they have established European distribution or sales teams. The impact will, however, be felt by the U.S.-based executive and support teams many of the companies send to the ispo show in Germany each year. Each company will, at least in 2006 and 2008, have to choose which show gets priority and at which show to cut short their attendance, or for which show their attendance is not mandatory.
Peter Metcalf of Black Diamond told us that his company used to send four people from the United States to support its Europe-based sales and marketing team, but for this year and going forward, he's only going to send one person.
Tremp told us that the companies which will be most affected by any show overlaps will be the smaller companies that are considering entering the European market.
"My challenge is going to be communicating with and assisting those smaller companies who now have, essentially, an 18-month window to explore the European market, make decisions regarding distribution, attend ispo 2005 and then, hopefully, feel comfortable enough to leave ispo tradeshow operation to a European-based sales team for future shows," he said.
"Naturally, with smaller companies, owners of those companies feel they need to be personally involved with international expansion, and they should be, but there isn't much time now," said Tremp. "If the smaller companies wait until 2005, or even 2006 when the shows potentially overlap, then it will become a much more difficult decision simply because an owner will have to choose to miss Outdoor Retailer to oversee a launch at ispo."
SNEWSÂ® View: ispo is clearly doing what is best for ispo, as well it should. There are a number of exhibitors we spoke with that believe Outdoor Retailer should move its show -- either on top of or in front of SIA. With the active discussions now being held as to where Outdoor Retailer should hold its Summer Market show, there is also a companion discussion regarding Winter Market, and if it should move to the same city as summer, if summer moves at all -- SNEWSÂ® will be providing a much more detailed analysis of the trade show move debate next week. In the meantime, Tremp is absolutely correct: Bigger companies will not be impacted with this decision. However, a smaller but growing company now considering expansion into the European market should begin exploration of that market sooner rather than later. In 2005, the shows are sufficiently far enough apart that any company could reasonably expect to attend both a full Outdoor Retailer Winter Market and then the full ispo winter show, with even a couple of days to find some clean underwear to pack. It is doubtful that 2006 will provide such a luxury, once again forcing attendance choices (or sleep deprivation) for companies that rely on owners and U.S.-based management teams to get the job done. As for why ispo is alternating its dates has to do with an existing construction industry trade show that has been held since 1964 around the third week in January called "Bau." The show is huge, with over 1,900 exhibitors from 40 countries filling 16 halls and spanning 1.9 million square feet. Ya can't just bump that baby out of the way with a sports show, no matter how successful.