Only weeks after the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, announced it would move from August to late July dates for its summer 2003 event -- before ispo's scheduled dates in early August -- ispo has thrown done the glove and leapfrogged ahead to late June, making it the first show of the season, effectively making other mid-summer shows less than necessary.
This move also makes many early preview shows unneeded, and some large European buying groups will simply use the early ispo venue for their own early previews, it was also announced. Apparel companies seem to lean toward the early dates for the entire ispo sporting goods shows since they kick off their selling season, while hardgoods companies may be hard-pressed to show new lines.
"ispo will now be at the very beginning of the shopping season," said Dieter Tremp, ispo's senior associate in the United States. "It is a very democratic move, too. It used to be that full-line previews were only given to large dealers one-by-one who would then have the advantage over others."
For summer 2003, ispo will be June 29 to July 1, also shortening from four to three days. Announced for 2004, are dates of June 27-29, and for 2005, June 26-28. These dates also alleviate some conflicts with holidays in various European countries in August, and they also avoid conflicts with late July summer closeout sales in Germany.
Reaction was swift from many sides, with glowing words trumped by ispo management from some retailers and exhibitors. OutDoor show management, which struggled with its 2003 schedule decision (see our story from September), however, has remained mostly mum.
"We have no reaction planned at this time," Rolf Schmid, Mammut CEO and one of the founders of the OutDoor show, told SNEWS®. "The special interest group will be meeting during November, and we will discuss it then."
However, another key figure in the founding of the OutDoor show, Manfred Hell, CEO of Jack Wolfskin, told SNEWS®:
"Early trade shows are extremely important for the industry. They are the only way to ensure timely deliveries and to prevent making wrong production decisions," Hell said in an email. "This has been reflected in our decision for a late July timing of the European OutDoor show. That was a balanced decision taking our dealer's interests into account as well as the manufacturer's.
"ispo's late June timing seems very radical and will create problems with a majority of independent dealers," he continued. "It also reflects their strategy of positioning ispo more toward a fashion show. It should not at all affect our OutDoor timing."
More positive words came to SNEWS® from Michael Rupp, managing director, adidas-Salomon AG area central: "As a long-standing partner of ispo, we welcome the earlier date as this moves it closer to the start of the pre-order phase, giving retailers the opportunity to gather information at an early stage and be more focused in their buying orders. adidas will in the future continue to maintain an impressive presence at the International Sporting Goods Fair in order to showcase the brand for retailers in a sustained way, based on sports competence and trends."
Also, Sport 2000, one of the area's largest buying groups, said the early dates could convince some suppliers of sporting goods to return to the summer ispo show:
"Still, we have to keep in mind that most probably this date will not really meet the approval of the German specialized trade," said Wolfgang Schnellbügel, Sport 2000 managing director. "We can nevertheless imagine that the German specialized trade regards the new trade fair dates as a chance to get information about new developments and trends at an early stage."
But some may just be a tad fed up with the constant struggle over and discussion of date changes:
"Personally, I don't care any more about these endless summer date discussions. We start selling the beginning of July -- since many years -- and that will not change," Peter Schoeffel, CEO of Schoeffel, told SNEWS®. "I am just sick of discussing the summer dates. For years, we've done this, and it costs energy from everybody within the industry."
SNEWS® View: He's tired of this constant back-and-forth over show dates? Heck, we'd love to stop writing about the push-pull. As if everyone, from every segment, from every industry could ever be happy? No, it won't happen. So let's just pick some dates that make the most sense all the way around. If these early June dates hold down the road, maybe the true balance to it would then be a late August show that would allow hardgoods dealers to unveil new product and close sales with retailers who by then can assess their needs for next season.