"It would be great if members of our industry foresook the habits of a lifetime and got involved now rather than 'waiting to see how things work out'," wrote John Traynor, editor of 'Outdoor Review', of the Ordnance Survey-sponsored The Outdoors Show, NEC, 15-17th March 2002. Former pro roadie Justin Clarke is in charge of getting the bike trade on board. Bikebiz.co.uk met up with him at the Go Outdoors trade show held in Harrogate earlier this week

GO OUTDOORS: The Outdoors Show signs Orbit and CTC

Chris Hughes, former events director at the Business Design Centre, now the MD of three-year old Brand Events and latterly the originator of The Outdoors Show – see http://www.bikebiz.co.uk/…/article.php?id=1477 – is a confident chap.

He said: "It takes three to four years to create a strong show but in ten years’ time it will be hard to believe [The Outdoors Show] once didn’t exist."

This is music to the ears of many members of the outdoor trade, reeling as they are from the foot-and-mouth crisis.

A spring consumer show could be a big boost to the outdoor trade’s fortunes. Ordnance Survey is certainly happy with the Brand Events concept: the map-making government department has signed a three year sponsorship deal.

The show – promised to be highly interactive, and to include cycling (still off-puttingly called ‘trail biking’) – will have a retail section but this will not be allowed to decend into a jumble sale, said Brand Events sales exec Justin Clarke.

"We have very tight policies on retailing from the show. It won’t be allowed to become like the NEC consumer bike show."

Clarke is in charge of getting more bike companies signed up for the show. CTC and Orbit have signed to date but Clarke wants many more.

He’s no stranger to the bike trade. In 2000 he sold his cycle retail website, ecycles.uk.com to madformountainbiking.com. Set up with partner James Packham, a business analyst, the site sold high-end bikes and in its short life built up a valuable database of high-end customers.

Prior to the venture into e-commerce, Clarke was a professional cyclist. In 1997 he rode for the Giant team that took first delivery of the then brand new, Mike Burrows designed compact road frame. This was also the bike of choice of Clarke’s next team, the short-lived Harrods squad. In 1999 Clarke joined the equally short-lived Men’s Health team.

In 2000 he graduated from university with a degree in graphic design and international marketing. Following his brief etail experience he joined Brand Events of London and helped sell the successful BBC Tomorrow’s World show, attended by 75 000 people.

As well as seeking to sign up more bike trade companies for The Outdoors Show, he’s got his eye on the future: he wants to become president of the BCF.

When bikebiz.co.uk pointed out that maybe those words will come back to haunt him, he said:

"I was often told it would be impossible to become a professional cyclist, but I did it. Just like being a pro cyclist, [becoming BCF president] will take application and hard work. I’m used to that."

If the confidence oozing from every pore of every member of the Brand Events team is anything to go by, The Outdoors Show will be a screamer of an event…

Tel: 020 7471 1080

Email: justinc@brandevents.co.uk


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