With the 14th OutDoor trade show in Germany now history, show management and the European Outdoor Group are looking to the future, having experienced another leap in exhibitors and attendees while still maintaining an intimate, outdoor community feel.
"The show has been another great success," said Mark Held, executive director of the European Outdoor Group, which owns the show that ran this year July 19-22. "The numbers were there. The atmosphere has been great. The build-up was fantastic."
The show closed with preliminary and unaudited numbers showing about a 9 percent increase in retail attendees over the 2006 show, or 16,900 compared to 15,529. (That count is based on the normal procedure of other Europe-based shows of counting each person on each day he or she enters as a separate visit, although if an attendee goes in and out on the same day it is not counted multiple times.) That was a good-sized jump after 2006 show attendance hadn't increased significantly over 2005.
Of those attendees, 70 percent were from outside Germany, compared to 65 percent in 2007.
Exhibitor numbers up too
Exhibitor numbers also climbed, with 731 companies from 39 countries in 11 halls, as well as in the open-air courtyard and atrium to cover 72,000 square meters (775,000 square feet). That was 56 additional exhibitors, or 8 percent more, than a year earlier. For a longer-term perspective, compare the total number this year to 231 exhibitors in the show's first year in 1994 and 411 in 2001. Show project director Stefan Reisinger, in a press conference the first morning, also noted that non-German exhibitors had again gone up: After Germany's 163 (up seven) was China's 80 (up five), Taiwan's 77 (up eight), United Kingdom's 64 (up 14), Italy's 63 (up three), the United State's 45 (up nine), France's 36 (up one) and Switzerland's 34 (up five).
In addition, media attendance jumped by 18 percent, with 805 newspapers, TV stations, magazines and trade publications covering at least some part of the show. That compares to 682 in 2006 and indicates the increasing importance of the show's market for global product debuts and editorial coverage since 26 countries were represented in that number.
To accommodate the growth in all segments, the show has now started construction on two new halls, a new foyer and new conference rooms; a new east entrance was already being used for the fashion show and other events. All the new area will be ready for the 2009 show.
EOG reports on market at press conference on first day
During the first morning's press conference, the EOG shared its State of the European Market report. The EOG has been conducting market research among its membership for three years, tracking economic trends for the outdoor category to help satisfy a growing need to quantify the industry.
Held prefaced the presentation by noting, "Since the membership of the EOG does not cover the entire market, it is necessary for the group to utilize a model to extrapolate relevant figures for the whole European market.
"No model can be 100-percent reliable, and we make no pretense that our figures are completely accurate in all market areas; however, we do know that these numbers are more accurate and more reliable than any others that exist in this sector," Held added.
A recent Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) G7 report stated growth for the European area was 2.8 percent in 2006, compared with 1.4 percent in 2005. Germany led the economic performance with a 2.9 percent increase, followed by the United Kingdom at 2.7 percent. France and Italy trailed with a respectable 2-percent tick up. It is expected that planned reform in France will further boost GDP in 2007. Germany, too, is expected to remain buoyant.
"Growth is buoyant in Germany," Held said, "and that's despite the VAT (increase). Germany is the high spot at the moment."
Compared to the overall economic picture, the outdoor industry performed in line with expectation, Held said, showing a growth of 2.6 percent in sales. This performance is considered especially strong in light of price pressures in the market that have reduced average prices items sell for, meaning volume is up.
The EOG is forecasting that sales growth for 2007 will remain strong, somewhere between 2.5 percent and 3 percent, in large part due to favorable trends in participation numbers, lifestyle trends and demographic trends.
The apparel category is, not surprisingly, the largest sales category, representing 49.9 percent of total sales, or EUR 2.9 billion (USD $4.0 billion). The fastest growing categories in the apparel category are travel and lifestyle clothing.
Footwear accounts for 21.9 percent of total sales volume, or EUR 1.2 billion (USD $1.6 billion). Multi-sport footwear is by far the strongest footwear subcategory, making up 53 percent of the total sales.
The equipment category, made up of packs, tents, sleeping bags and hardware, account for the balance of 28.2 percent. Here, Held noted that packs are noteworthy showing a growth of 5 percent in the last year.
By country, Germany dominates, with total sales of EUR 1.66 billion (USD $2.29 billion). The United Kingdom follows with EUR 1.16 billion (USD $1.60 billion), trailed by France at EUR 950 million (USD $1.31 billion). In terms of spending per capita, however, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland top the entire list.