The Outdoor Trade Show has previously been held at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Outdoor Trade Show has previously been held at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Organisers of the UK’s largest trade show for the outdoors industry have announced it will merge with a smaller show and move to a new venue next year.

The Outdoor Trade Show will be staged in Greater Manchester after several years at the National Agricultural and Exhibition Centre at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire.

But organisers of a smaller event in Kendal said they still intend to go ahead with their show in the same week.

Previously Kendal Outdoor Retail Show and the Reliable Outdoor Kit Show – Kors and Roks respectively – were held in the Cumbrian town simultaneously but at different venues. Roks agreed to join OTS at its new location but Kors will still go ahead next year.

The shows offer retailers the chance to see upcoming innovations from a wide variety of outdoor brands. Journalists also attend the events for information on the latest developments in the outdoor world.

This year OTS was held in July, in the week following the Kendal shows, after moving its dates from September.

The OTS founding group of Vango parent company AMG, distributors Burton McCall and representative body the Outdoor Industries Association said they all shared a common goal of trying to create one national trade show and lobbied hard with trade suppliers and the organisers of Kors and Roks to try and convince them of the benefits of working together.

They said the decision follows exhaustive research with retailers and exhibitors that reflected a common desire for the creation of a unified show with dates best suited before order books close and at a location convenient for both northern- and southern-based retailers.

They said: “The results of trade discussions and feedback from surveys challenged OTS to offer a trade show solution that answered the concerns – the main one being that there are too many shows and roadshows and to try and resolve this by the creation of one show.

“As a result, negotiations and discussions have taken place with the organisers of both Kors and Roks that have resulted in Roks sharing the same objective and deciding to join with OTS in 2018.”

Andrew Denton, chief executive of the Outdoor Industries Association. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Andrew Denton, chief executive of the Outdoor Industries Association. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Chief executive of the OIA Andrew Denton said he believes that one trade show would provide a solution for many brands and retailers. “The dynamics of trade shows throughout the world are changing, and trying to bring together brands to create one focal point in the selling-in and buying calendar seems to make sense and answers many of the concerns from the trade.

“One UK trade show also represents economies of scale for suppliers with less time spent out of the office, less staff expenses and a requirement for the logistics of only one trade show stand. The date slot of 3-5 July would seem to be the preferred timing hence the commitment to the show dates in 2018.

“As a co-owner of OTS, the OIA is also very keen to see the continuation of a successful trade show and this new development including the merger with Roks will help to future-proof the show for years to come.

“At this time, after a very positive conversation, Kors believe a regional show remains their preferred option but our door remains firmly open in the future should they change their mind.”

A Kors spokesperson said: “While recognising the arguments that have been put forward towards creating a single major UK trade show, the Kors organisation has decided to continue with its Kendal show on 3-4 July 2018.

“Kors believes this is a positive, forward-looking decision, based on its close understanding of the current, and future, retail landscape.

“Independent retailers are under pressure; they don’t want to travel far, and they want quality time with brands. Having canvassed opinion extensively with retailers and exhibitors, it is clear there is a continued demand for the Kors model of a no-frills, focused technical outdoor show based in Kendal. It’s a proven formula.

“It would be great to think there is a simple solution that brings the whole industry together; however there is a reality in how the sales landscape has changed, how retailers want to make buying decisions, and how Kors believes this will continue to evolve.

“Feedback confirms the strong demand for Kors to continue, so the organisers look forward to welcoming retailers to a busy, successful Kors show in 2018.”

Kendal will still host a trade show, Kors organisers said. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Kendal will still host a trade show, Kors organisers said. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Founder and organiser of Roks, Sam Fernando, who is also sales director of Fife-based brand Keela, said she decided to support the idea of a unified show after consulting her Roks exhibitors. She said: “I am delighted that together with OTS we can now provide a single exhibition that highlights all that’s best in the outdoor industry.

“Coming together at the right time and in the right place ensures full accessibility to all. We are determined to ensure that OTS Roks!”

JD Sports outdoor division chief executive and OIA board member Lee Bagnall said: “Retailers are presented with too many opportunities and invitations by suppliers to review products.

“The ability to come to one venue and see many brands under the one roof all at the same time makes perfect sense. We believe that a UK national show that unites the industry is very important for our trade.

“The move to Manchester a week earlier and with Roks joining as well makes it even more relevant for us and our buying team. Attempting to consolidate the trade into one national show with a real focus is the solution and at JD and Blacks we will be supporting this initiative in 2018.”

The Outdoor Trade Show will take place at EventCity in Stretford and Kendal Outdoor Retail Show at Kendal Leisure Centre in July next year.

  • grough is a member of the OIA.

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