The British outdoor trade show calendar has been reorganized. The Outdoor Trade Show (OTS) will merge with the Reliable Outdoor Kit Show (ROKS) in 2018, building up to a joint show to be held at Event City in Greater Manchester on July 3-5.
It will continue to be called OTS. It will continue to be supported by the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) of the U.K., which took a minority stake in the show last year and will remain a shareholder.
The OTS, the largest trade show for the British outdoor industry, has been held in the last years at the National Agricultural and Exhibition Centre at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire, while the ROKS has been organized in the Cumbrian town of Kendal, in the Lake District, where many brands, distributors and retailers of outdoor products have their head offices because it's a hotspot for outdoor activities. This past summer, the ROKS took place on July 4-5 and the OTS on July 11-13.
Manchester was picked as a location for the joint event, after research conducted among retailers and exhibitors, because its central location is easily reachable for retailers located in the northern and southern parts of the U.K. AMG, Burton McCall and the OIA, founders of the OTS, explained that the aim of the merger is to create a single national trade show.
The move has been supported by Sam Fernando, sales director at Keela International and founder and organizer of the ROKS. She will sit on the board of the OTS. The ROKS show was launched in 2011 by a group of brands that were unable to gain access to another fair in the same city, the Kendal Outdoor Retail Show (KORS). First launched ten years ago, KORS featured 20 exhibitors and more than 100 technical brands at its latest edition last July, but its organizers didn't release visitor numbers.
A Scottish winter edition of the ROKS show was launched in Edinburgh in 2013. Grouping about 30 brands in the big Ratho indoor climbing hall of the city, it will continue to be held there next Jan. 9-10. Fernando is thinking about an innovative future solution for the Edinburgh show, after seeing the results of the new, enlarged OTS in Manchester.
The management of the Kendal show has decided not to join the OTS and the ROKS. It will go ahead as a regional show, but it has moved its 2018 dates from July 3-4 to July 10-11, to avoid “splitting people and resources” between two shows. The organizers of KORS say they have found that, given the current retail landscape, there is demand for a technical outdoor show that is close to regional retailers and enables them to have quality time with the brands.
The OTS was previously held in September. With the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen moving to early dates, it moved this year to an early July schedule. This and the acquisition of a minority stake in the OTS by the OIA helped boost the number of brands to about 500 at its latest session, including many new ones. The show was reported to have been relatively quiet in terms of visitors, but reactions from the exhibitors suggest that there were more retailers than before who were intent on placing orders.