Robert Louden, director general of The Camping and Caravanning Club, was elected as the new chairman of the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) of the U.K. at the association's annual meeting last month, taking the place of Stephen Newlands of the AGM Group. Two directors, Hans Falkenburg of Cotswold Outdoor and Frank Bennett from Lyon Equipment, have left the OIA's board.
Louden had been a member of the board since March 2012. His election reflects the OIA's broadened range of activities in the outdoor recreation sector; similar companies and institutions that don't sell outdoor products now represent about 25 percent of its 200-plus membership. Outdoor recreation in the broader sense is also the field of application of a new £1.1 billion (€1.4bn-$1.6bn) package of funding allocated by the British government for the 2017-22 period.
Andrew Denton, who continues as the OIA's chief executive, said that he is lobbying the government to ensure that the outdoor industry will benefit from the plan. He is also trying to involve the agricultural sector to ensure more access to outdoor spaces. Meanwhile, the OIA has started to make a profit, which will be largely reinvested to promote outdoor participation.
Jennie Price, chief executive of Sport England, was one of the speakers at the OIA's annual convention last month, where she said that brands can play an important part in broadening the market, while making a profit at the same time. Another speaker was Bernd Kullmann, the former president and current brand ambassador of Deuter, who reportedly gave a humorous insight into the highs and lows of his personal climbing life and challenges that he faced in combining the pressures of business with family life and the personal goals that he set himself to achieve in the mountaineering circles.
About 200 delegates attended the conference in Harrogate. They were fewer than expected and than those who showed up at last year's OIA convention in the Lake District, where many members of the big local outdoor community were allowed to attended free of charge.