The first European Outdoor Summit (EOS), held in Stockholm last Oct. 16-18, went better than expected. It pulled a total of 321 delegates from 21 different countries, creating seating problems during some of the sessions because the venue can normally accommodate a maximum of 300 persons, but then some of the participants spent only one day at the conference.

A post-event survey showed an overwhelmingly positive response to the summit, which was organized by the European Outdoor Group (EOG) and hosted by the Scandinavian Outdoor Group (SOG). The next one will take place on Oct. 15-16, 2014 at the Tegernsee, a lake near Munich, and will be hosted by BSI, the German sporting goods industry federation. The location is one hour away from Munich's airport, and some observers found it to be an interesting counterpoint to Lake Constance, where the European OutDoor show is held every year in July. To help it out in this task, BSI has hired a 31-year-old expert in the area of sports associations, Mareike Gröwe, who will be responsible for the event as well as for other activities.

Around half of the delegates at the EOS in Stockholm came from Scandinavian countries, including the top executives of many important companies with the exception of Craft, which was only represented by a sales rep because of an important corporate meeting. Haglöfs invited country managers from all over Europe to attend the conference before moving into an international pre-sales meeting of its own.

The delegates included high-level officials from many companies in other parts of Europe – especially from the German-speaking countries and the U.K. – and from the U.S. and Canada. Some had previously participated earlier last month in the Outdoor Industry Association's more established OIA Rendevous in San Diego, which pulled in a similar number of attendees, especially from the West Coast.

In a hosting program sponsored by Fjällräven, Haglöfs, Silva, Thule and Viking, a dozen major outdoor specialty retailers were invited to attend the conference from Continental Europe and the U.S. These included Bergzeit, SportScheck and Internetstores from Germany, Bächli Bergsport and Sherpa Outdoor from Switzerland, Tiso from Scotland and REI from the U.S.

Mark Held, secretary general of the EOG, said that it had decided to organize the EOS because the promotion of “meaningful shared communication,” market knowledge and network is one of the guiding principles of the association. He publicly gave credit to the French-based Outdoor Sports Valley (OVS) for pioneering the concept through the three European Outdoor Forums that were held in Annecy over the past three years.

The participants listened to some interesting speeches and panel discussions on the future of retailing, mergers and acquisitions, sustainability and other topics, and we are going to relay some of the contents in the next issue of The Compass. Barbara Smit, the main author of a big report that we published on the Nordic outdoor market a year ago, discussed the opportunities and challenges of the market with Martin Kössler, secretary general of the SOG. The SOG was a co-sponsor of the report, and The Compass was the international media sponsor of the EOS.

The convention and some of the side events, including a memorable Swedish dinner, were held in a centrally located palace behind the Stockholm Opera and facing the King's Palace. About 20 delegates took part in a retail tour of the 25-odd neighboring outdoor shops, but many others visited them on their own. A similar number of delegates participated in a “rooftop” visit to the city. Half a dozen, including the publisher of The Compass, rowed on kayaks for two and a half hours through some of Stockholm's canals.