Attendance slips, but show and industry – despite a very tough 12 months in retail – remain buoyant

Resilient snow trade turns out for Slide

Last month UK snowsport industry show Slide saw over 100 exhibitors bring over 230 brands to the Telford International Centre.

Visitor numbers dipped compared with the previous year – to just under 600 – but according to the show organisers, key decision makers made up over 72 per cent of attendees. Key brands were also in attendance, including Oakley, Quiksilver and Adidas, among others.

“Attendance figures are lower than last year,” organiser Lesley Beck explained to BikeBiz: “Though our through-the-door figures were higher on two out of the three days than last year.”

The show comes after a tough 12 months for the snowsport industry, largely due to unseasonably warm weather, Beck explained: “Last winter hit early and hard, so retailers re-stocked as much as they could in December 2010 and Jan 2011. Then, winter stopped in its tracks at the end of Jan 2011 and it became very warm, very quickly. So retailers were left with a huge amount of winter stock that they couldn’t shift.

“This autumn was horribly warm, especially in England and in fact didn’t get cold at all until early February. That’s pretty much an entire year with no demand for winter product, other than from committed enthusiasts. So, the vagaries of the British weather have really made it tough for wintersport retailers in this last 12 months.”

Despite the tough year, Beck said the trade was in good shape, and buoyed by the cold snap in February: “The good news is that they’re a tough, committed bunch and things are balancing out now, so retailers should start next winter in a more solid position.”

Post show, much of the ski industry headed to Kuhtai, Austria to test the skis that were at Slide. More than 20 brands were expected to bring over 600 pairs of skis to attend the Test taking place at the start of March (5th to 9th). “The specialist ski press attend the Test, so they can offer comprehensive equipment guides next autumn and retailers use the test to finalise their orders for next autumn too,” Beck added.

Slide will return in 2013, with dates yet to be confirmed.

Slide background
Slide started life as Ski-GB in 1987 and has undergone many changes to arrive at its current form.

Organiser Lesley Beck filled BikeBiz in on the details: “Slide has changed hugely over the years, but remains the most important – and only – wintersport trade show in the UK. It’s a forward-order show. Back in the ‘90s, the show was huge, filling more than 10,000 square metres – it’s just under half that now.

“Exhibitors spent vast sums of money on stands, building double decker structures and the show looked very spectacular. But times have changed. Brands no longer spend huge marketing budgets on trade shows, and Slide has re-invented itself to meet the current market requirements, offering value for money options to exhibitors, who use the show more as a sales tool than anything else. Due to the timing of the show, it works best for accessories, hardware and the smaller clothing brands, or those who have more flexible order deadlines.”

The show moved to Telford last year, boosting exhibitor numbers by more than 20 per cent.

Slide is owned by the SIGB – The Snowsport Industries of Great Britain, the trade association for skiing and snowboarding. The SIGB has 200 member organisations from retail, supplier and travel sectors and is led by a 12-strong committee.

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