British brands enjoy outstanding ISPO Beijing show

 British brands enjoy outstanding ISPO Beijing show

More than 24500 industry professionals turned up to view the products of 353 exhibitors (+28% on 2011) and 516 brands (+47%) over 35000 m² (+17%) of exhibition space at the eighth ISPO BEIJING 2012, organised by Messe München International, and established as the essential sports business platform for the Asia-Pacific region.

This was also the first time a British contingent, with support from UKTI under the banner of the OIA, exhibited with brands DMM, Kozi Kidz, Lowe Alpine, Mountain Equipment, OMM and RAB enjoying a busy and demanding four days. All agreed that the quality of visitors allied to the organisation and support from ISPO made exhibiting a great success and a big plus for the OIA.

Last year, Tomas Torstensson visited the show as part of his research into setting up sales and distribution in China. With subsequent trips to China resulting in appointing an agent and establishing a showroom and office in Beijing, exhibiting at ISPO was a logical progression. He said, “The opportunity to exhibit in China at the premier show under the UK banner of the OIA was too good to miss. The show was a great success for us with many new leads and orders taken. China is a demanding market and we are on course to meet the demand for quality and innovation.”

The UK branding reflected the key characteristics sought by Chinese buyers – quality, heritage, innovation and brand integrity. The Distributor Matchmaking program that connects international brands with Chinese distributors and retailers has enjoyed great successes in the past including Salewa, Haglöfs and Hilleberg. This year, several European brands such as Odlo, Craft and Sinner signed up aiming to find their partners in China through ISPO.

Lauren Fox, ISPO UK Information Centre UK & ROI, said, “This was the first UK Village area for ISPO BEIJING and the reaction to all the brands has been tremendous. Not only in terms of building profile in the Chinese outdoor retail market, but for the exhibitors themselves to develop an up close awareness of the way it works. We have incorporated cultural as well as commercial experiences into the exhibitor attendance so that anyone coming to the show is able to gain the most value from their time. The ISPO BEIJING team has been outstanding in supporting brand needs and UKTI have also been instrumental in helping achieve this dynamic and very exciting business development programme.”

ISPO BEIJING has become a lively platform for industry professionals to exchange information, discuss industry issues and talk about future progress with an excellent allied program of networking opportunities. At the Exhibitors’ Night, guests heard about plans for the Juhu Outdoor Mall opening in 2013 – 17000sqm showcasing 60 brands over 5 floors in the centre of Beijing. As well as promoting the outdoor and winter sports industries in China, ISPO BEIJING 2012 expanded to include the action sports and street culture. The Action Sport Village promoted small brands and showcased the action sports culture with the mini-ramp proving a huge hit at the show and a worthwhile investment by the organisers.

Roger Zeng, distributor, founder of the China Outdoor Retailer Association and shortly to be a keynote speaker at the OIA Conference, said, “The Chinese market is still evolving but it’s happening very quickly. At present, it’s recreational in focus with few athlete options available for marketing and promotion. However, there is growing demand from retailers for support and we need to develop our Outdoor School training program for retail staff.”

The ISPO-organised tour of retail outlets, part of the Distributor Matchmaking initiative, gave an overview of outdoor consumer shopping in China from department stores through mono-brand outlets to speciality stores. The 3rd floor of the New Yansha Mall reflects the clustering of European brands, including Berghaus, Jack Wolfskin, Aigle and Lafuma, as well as others such as Keen, Columbia, Coleman and TNF and Chinese brands Toread, KingCamp, Kolumb and Ozark.

After exploring three of Sanofo’s stores, the founder and CEO Heng Zhang briefly described the development of his market leading retail chain to several European outdoor brands’ representatives, “In 1997, I returned from a backpacking trip in Tibet and opened a 20sqm shop. It opened erratically as I was still a student and the only member of staff. We now have 31 stores, employing 520 staff, in ten cities with another opening shortly. The average size is around 500sqm and we’re planning to open 5 or 6 each year for a while. Unless, that is, we go public. Then we’ll be opening 30+ each year as the demand is out there. Our promotion to consumers has three main strands – the prominent location of our stores, the very important website and our Outdoor Club which has over 100000 members, runs a busy, varied program of events and grows by 15000 new consumers each year.”

For information on participating in ISPO BEIJING 2013 plus exhibiting at or visiting ISPO BIKE 12 or ISPO MUNICH 13, contact the UK representative for ISPO shows – Lauren Fox (of Totally Foxed Communications): fox@ispo.com;01923 233683.

Report by John Traynor and Lauren Fox

OIA UK Village feedback

Simon Marsh
DMM
“ISPO BEIJING is and it isn’t what I had expected. The reaction to our brand and the general atmosphere is quite overwhelming. Customers are very ‘interactive’ and like to touch and feel product and it is interesting to see how different the end consumer is. We will definitely see growth from being at the show, especially having been able to talk to our distributor and highlight objectives. The show organisation has been incredible, better than any trade show we have attended. In Beijing, everyone is so happy to provide a service.”

Tomas Tortensson
Kozi Kidz
“We came to ISPO BEIJING with very specific commercial targets and we broke them on the first day! Having been to China previously and appointed an agent we really saw the benefit of preparing for the market, especially in terms of communication, which is crucial. The show has been vital in enabling us to interact with our agent and to create very strong retail contacts.”

Hamish Dunn
Mountain Equipment
“It has been an incredible experience at ISPO BEIJING and has been essential for us to discover how to understand the market more. That’s the only way to elevate our brand properly and find the right distribution. It is definitely highly unusual in China, with millions of routes for a brand to reach the end consumer.”

Matt Williams
OMM
“ISPO BEIJING and its organisation for us by the UK ISPO team and Kerrin Mueggenburg’s ISPO China team has been outstanding. The service has been excellent and it has enabled OMM to really get to see how outdoor brands are perceived in China and the way that retailing works. We had so much productive interest in the brand – by the end of the first day I had run out of business cards!”