The Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) of the U.K. held its annual conference and general meeting on March 13-14 at Shrigley Hall in Cheshire.

During the event, Robert Brigham was elected as the new chairman of the organization. For the past eight years, he has been the managing director of Ellis Brigham, the British retail chain owned by A.S. Adventure. He has been working in snow sports since he was a teenager, selling ski boots and then moving into ski repair by the age of 16.

Brigham has taken the place of Robert Louden, who stepped down as the OIA's chairman, after a three-year term. He will remain a member of the OIA's board. He will also be retiring this autumn as director general of The Camping and Caravanning Club, a British non-profit association founded in 1901.

The board of the OIA has seen some other changes over the past year. Two of its members – Mark Brigham of Ellis Brigham and Richard Leedham of Berghaus – stepped down in May and were replaced by three new directors: Nick Giles of Ordnance Survey, Matt Gowar of Equip UK and the previously mentioned Robert Brigham.

In September, the OIA instituted a Development Board, whose members are mid-level managers – that is, potential chief executives and managing directors – in the outdoor industry. The Development Board will be working alongside the OIA's main board over the next year.

Meanwhile, Andrew Denton, the OIA's chief executive, received a seat on Ispo's advisory board in June, thus gaining a certain influence in determining the future course of Ispo Munich as well as the OutDoor by Ispo show. The OIA and one of its member organizations, Brandwave Marketing, sponsored this year's Pre-Ispo Ski Day.

Denton has also been representing outdoor recreation in the membership council of UK Active, the non-profit association promoting gyms and leisure centers, since last April.

According to its annual report, the OIA is doing well. The membership remained at the end of last year at 182, down by only two from the record figure reached in 2016. Financially, the association is no longer struggling to make a quorum or maintain solvency, as it was seven years ago. The turnover amounted to £195,855 (€227,474-$255,193) last year, and the association had a profit of £7,450 (€8,653-$9,707). Denton states in the document that the OIA has amassed reserves equal to a year's operating costs.

About 160 delegates from the industry attended the annual conference of the OIA. The keynote speakers were Daniel Raven-Ellison, the self-described “guerilla geographer and creative explorer” and founder of the campaign to make London the first National City Park; Liz McMahon, managing director of Madison Muir Group; and Ben Saunders, the polar explorer and endurance athlete.

Speakers at other sessions included Andy Atkins of Resonant, Phillipp Grüntker and Jonas Wand of the Foursource Group, David Judge and Lee Isherwood of Cornershop Design, and Gordon Young of Sheffield Hallam University. A panel discussion on single-use plastic was chaired by Frédéric Hufkens, president of A.S. Adventure (see the article further down in this issue).

The outdoor activities that took place around the conference happened to coincide with the arrival of a storm that kept things wet for the mountain-biking and road cycling journeys organized in collaboration with British Cycling; a 10k run with Chris Lines, owner and director of Right Lines Communications; and a countryside walk with Ordnance Survey.

As we have previously reported, the OIA helped to promote a much-needed consolidation of the three former national outdoor trade shows last year. The Reliable Outdoor Kits Show (ROKS), formerly held in Edinburgh, was folded into the Outdoor Trade Show (OTS). To fill the resulting gap in Scotland, ROKS and OTS founded the OTS Northern Roadshow, whose inaugural edition took place on Jan. 8-9 at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange, in the suburb of Murrayfield. Meanwhile, the OIA helped persuade the Kendal Outdoor Retail Show (KORS) to join the OTS in its move to Manchester. In Denton's words, the change will be “bringing the trade together” for a single exhibition at Manchester's EventCity next July 9-11.