Outdoor Industries Association Blog

Archive for December, 2010

A festive message from Sir Chris Bonington

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Our industry is well prepared for the cold financial front

One way or another, I have enjoyed a link to the outdoor industry for almost 60 years – as a consumer, climber, executive, ambassador and dare I say elder statesman.  I remember the sector well during its very modest, formative stage.  Back then, it was dominated by a few very passionate outdoor activists who opened retail outlets or started making products and created brands that would one day be household names.  Just as I was exploring the wild places of the world, these people were business pioneers, embarking on adventures that in some cases continue today.

And the industry certainly has changed a great deal over the decades.  No-one could accuse it of being a ‘cottage’ industry now.  I have been fortunate enough to be closely involved with Berghaus for almost 30 years and have witnessed first hand both the development of one company and how it has played its part in the evolution of the whole outdoor sector.  Of course, Berghaus is just one of many UK companies that have contributed to transforming our industry into a modern, dynamic and forward looking sector that makes a major contribution to the UK’s wider economy.

The state of the economy is clearly at the front of many of our minds at the moment.  These are very challenging times in almost every part of the public and private sector.  Consumers are quite understandably being very cautious about how, where and when they spend what disposable income that they have available.  There is no point shying away from the fact that 2011 will test us all.  However, I know that here in the UK we have an industry that is very well prepared for that test.

We have talented people, very well established retailers, brands and other businesses, and we have a collective drive and passion to succeed.  The increasing appeal of the outdoors to more consumers from all walks of life offers an insight into the opportunity for our industry.  We must reach out to these people, clearly demonstrating to them that they should seek advice, products and services from the real experts, who can offer outstanding customer service and great value for money.  I know that the OIA has a major initiative planned that will start in the spring, which is designed to encourage more people into the outdoors.  In the process, it will drive interest and footfall (‘virtual’ and real) to OIA members up and down the country.  I encourage everyone to support this when details emerge – it will be a project that has the potential to make a positive impact on our collective fortunes in 2011.

Meanwhile, I’ve put in a request for some proper winter weather in the UK, to remind the general public of the benefits of well made kit to keep them warm, dry and comfortable in all conditions.  I hope that request is answered and that trading between now and spring is brisk for you all.  Have a very enjoyable festive period and together, I hope that we can forge a prosperous New Year for the outdoor industry.

Sir Chris Bonington.

Honorary President of the Outdoor Industries Association