Outdoor Industries Association conference plots course to new horizons

Outdoor Industries Association conference plots course to new horizons

 The Outdoor Industries Association’s second annual conference, ‘New Horizons – the changing face of the Outdoor Industry’, has been hailed as a great success. Over 100 delegates from all parts of the sector attended the event, which incorporated the association’s AGM and was held over two days at HF Holidays’ property Newfield Hall, in Malham, Yorkshire.

The gathering kicked off on the afternoon of 12 March with an opportunity for the industry to do what it does best – get outdoors. With activities laid on, delegates had the chance to mountain bike, walk or climb with well known and respected industry figures.

Later the same afternoon, the OIA held its formal AGM, during which it was announced that the association will relocate its head office from outside Edinburgh to Windermere in the Lake District. Communications director Louise Ramsay and membership manager Catriona Rice have decided not to move to the Lakes and OIA chair Corry Taylor paid tribute to their contribution to the association.

Following the AGM, chief executive Andrew Denton rallied the industry with the unveiling of the OIA’s exciting and dynamic post London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games initiative, ‘Britain on Foot’, more details of which will be revealed in the coming months. The day concluded with a lively meal at which Cameron McNeish provided a very entertaining after dinner speech.

The next day started with influential keynote speakers covering wide ranging topics that all offered very pertinent messages to the UK trade. Roger Zeng, president of China Outdoor Retailers’ Association, opened the day by detailing the development, scope and potential of the Chinese outdoor market. He was followed by Mark Held, secretary general of the European Outdoor Group, who gave an exclusive insight into the process, content and development of the ‘European State of the Industry’ report. The final keynote speaker of the day was the inspirational Dr William Bird MBE, who had the whole room enthralled by his presentation, ‘A Healthier Future for Britain’, which had tremendous synergy with ‘Britain on Foot’.

The afternoon saw delegates attending a selection of workshops covering a host of topics including sustainability, social media, retail staff training and exporting to China, before the two day event came to a close. All in all, the successful and buoyant conference demonstrated that the UK outdoor industry has some significant opportunities to make an impact at a national level. The event also reinforced the need for the industry body, the OIA, to be at the heart of this and lead on behalf of the sector. Delegates left Malham believing that the association has the vision and the drive to deliver.

Delegate feedback from the conference:

“Now is definitely the time for waverers about supporting the OIA to jump off the fence and for sceptics to roll up their sleeves, put aside historical reservations, think beyond short-term benefit and get involved.” Outdoor i

“I wish to express my appreciation for the quality of this year’s OIA meeting at Newfield Hall. I came away feeling quite inspired and felt it was a pivotal event for our industry.” Ralph White, Rosker

“I would like to add my congratulations to you and the team, the conference was superb. I am sure that as more people hear about it and how well the OIA is developing, then membership will continue to expand rapidly”. Ken Reeve, Cotswold Outdoors

“Congratulations and well done on a fantastic event. I thought it hit exactly the right note in every respect”  Chris Tiso, Tiso Group Ltd

“Cracking 2 day event! It was a great venue, wonderfully planned and executed, very good value for money for all who attended with terrific speakers, delicious food and great company” Corry Taylor, Bradshaw Taylor

“The best thing that's happened in the UK outdoor industry since… “ Sarah Howcroft, ROG

“Thanks for a terrific and very inspiring OIA Conference. Very uplifting and encouraging – lots of opportunity ahead.” Willie Irvine, Merrell

“I think you blew everyone's socks off and those that did not attend the event in part or it's entirety missed out.” Anthony Greasby, Countryside Ski & Climb

“It was a great pleasure to help contribute to such an excellent conference… and yes, Britain on Foot, could be very big and play a pivotal role for our market going forward.” Gordon Fraser, Anatom

“This is just a brief note to say “well done”. It was a great event and full of interest. I think you have a great platform to get more members!” Bob Gomersall, Chair HF Holidays
“The recent Outdoors Industries Association conference epitomised the new passion and energy established by the OIA, with its vision of new horizons for the sector. With engaging speakers and topics, an inspirational outdoor venue in the Yorkshire Dales and plenty of time to network with outdoors colleagues in the bar, over dinner and on the hills, it was well worth attending.” Laura Sims, head of marketing and development for HF Holidays,

“This year’s OIA conference was extremely valuable and provided us with an abundance of networking opportunities with likeminded people. Our Real Richness campaign (it’s emotional richness that counts) has struck a chord within the industry and we share the OIA’s overarching aim to get more people exploring the great outdoors. Getting outdoors offers that priceless chance to get closer to nature, and back in touch with who you really are.” Jon Dale, The Camping and Caravanning Club’s PR Manager