OIA seeks new members to build on recent momentum

OIA seeks new members to build on recent momentum

The Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) has started a sustained drive to increase membership levels. Following its well attended conference and an announcement of the relocation of its head office to the Lake District, the association is seeking to build on the recent momentum that has attracted 27 new members during the last six months. Underpinning the campaign is the OIA’s widest ever range of benefits and services, combined with a higher profile on the national political stage, and a guarantee that all independent retail members can save money by joining.

Since April 2011, the OIA has continued to develop the work it does, in line with its vision of being a dynamic and relevant trade association that represents and promotes the entire UK outdoor industry. The association now delivers an extensive programme of activity, both domestically and on the international stage. Alongside well established benefits and services that provide significant savings, the OIA offers access to major networking events throughout the year, and has helped make available over £130,000 of grants to support companies wanting to attend international trade fairs such as ISPO Beijing.

Early in 2012, the OIA teamed up with the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) to meet with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mountaineering at Westminster. The meeting led to a parliamentary question and an ongoing dialogue through which the OIA and BMC hope to put outdoor activities at the heart of the national health agenda. Meanwhile, the OIA is in the early stages of developing a major consumer campaign – ‘Britain on Foot’ – that will be designed to get more of the general public walking in the outdoors. When it launches later in 2012, it is hoped that Britain on Foot will play a major role in raising the profile of outdoor activities, and the many UK companies and individuals who make it possible for people to experience and enjoy them.

The cost of OIA membership is as low as £200 for a small business (with a turnover of less than £500,000), and at an even lower cost of £60 in the Independent Outdoor Professional (IOP) category. Launched early in 2012, with the input and backing of new board member Cameron McNeish, IOP members can access a wide range of OIA benefits and services, including: the free use of meeting rooms at properties owned by OIA member HF Holidays; a legal and HR hotline run by Croner Consulting; member discounts for OIA events such as the annual conference and other networking opportunities; and access to the members’ section on www.theoia.co.uk, which hosts valuable industry related material.

Leading the OIA is chief executive Andrew Denton, who joined the association in September 2011. He works with the OIA board, which, during the last year, has been boosted by new appointments – Stephen Newlands (managing director of AMG Group), Andrew Greasby (owner of retailer Countryside Ski & Climb), Matt Kemp (UK country manager for Berghaus), Michelle Dickinson (head of marketing for Burton McCall) and writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish. Between them, the board members offer the OIA extensive knowledge and experience; they all believe in the importance of a successful trade association and provide their input to the association free of charge.

Andrew Denton, OIA chief executive, comments:
“There is a real dynamism about the OIA at the moment. We recently staged the best attended AGM in recent memory, followed by a hugely successful conference. People not only left the event energised and enthusiastic about our plans, but also with a determination to play a role in helping the OIA to deliver them. There’s a genuine momentum building about what we can all achieve together, but we will only reach our goals if the association continues to grow its membership and gain critical mass.

“For small businesses and individuals, it’s a demonstrable fact that by joining the OIA, they can save money. For larger businesses, we offer the same services and benefits, along with the chance to support the industry of which they are a part, and help us all to develop the sector for the benefit of everyone. With the plans for Britain on Foot and other initiatives, we are building something very exciting at the OIA and I hope that even more individuals and businesses will want to be a part of that.”