The success of the recent Ordnance Survey sponsored The Outdoors Show at Birmingham's NEC has kicked off a debate in the outdoor trade about the pros and cons of the NEC and Harrogate, and trade shows versus public shows. This is a debate the bike trade has been battling with for years!

NEC vs Harrogate: views from the outdoor trade

In the Unofficial OWG Mailing Number 239, sent by Outdoor Writers’ Guild member Hazelle Jackson, two OWG writers have started a debate on the merits of the NEC over the long-standing outdoor trade show held in Harrogate.

This show is organised by the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) formerly known as COLA, the Camping and Outdoor Leisure Association.

The OWG comments mirror a debate going on in outdoor companies the length and breadth of the UK.

OWG member Roly Smith said:

"I certainly hope the show is repeated, on a larger scale, next year. Certainly all the exhbitors I spoke to, from small publishers to the big boys like Berghaus and OS, were delighted with the response – and they did good business.

"A few of us have been telling COLA, or OAI, or whatever their latest acronym is, for years that they should let the public in, but they always came up with some lame excuse about the risk of stock being stolen, not enough staff to cope, etc. We all know that there are just as many gear freaks out there as camera freaks – those who always have

to have the latest and best gear. So why shouldn’t they be given the chance to see it, talk to the experts, pass on some R&D information, and possibly even buy it there and then – if more retailers were allowed in?"

OWG member Andrew McCloy said:

"How refreshing to actually see an enthusiastic slice of the general public rather than a bunch of reps, agents and bored company staff that you usually get at Harrogate. The main

drawback was the show’s sheer popularity, but I understand that that was mainly

due to the NEC’s lack of optimism over numbers, and that next year there will be three halls instead of one. Full credit should go to the Ramblers’ Association and Ordnance Survey for actively backing the event but why weren’t gear retailers and outdoor companies better represented?

"As the show’s director told me: ‘[The show] will certainly have room for those more cynical companies who didn’t get involved this year, the names of whom I wouldn’t dream of mentioning."


Thursday 27th September 2001

GO OUTDOORS: The Outdoors Show signs Orbit and CTC…/article.php?id=1659

"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. met up with him at the Go Outdoors trade show held in Harrogate earlier this week

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