22nd January 2016 | Rob Stewart, SLIDE
Last modified on September 14th, 2020
Snowsports trade show ends with a look at all that is new for next season and some worries about the threat from foreign online companies.
Once a year the UK winter sports industry gathers for three days to launch their new products for the following season.
It is organised by Rare Management and affiliated with the SIGB (Snowsports Industries of Great Britain).
It took place at the International Centre in the Shropshire town of Telford in what bizarrely seems a world away from the mountains.
Despite this, the key people from the UK snowsports industry were in attendance from both the manufacturer and retailer side.
Ski and snowboard journalists from several publications were eyeing up the latest kit that will be seen on the slopes of the 2016-2017 winter season.
Over eighty exhibitors were representing hundreds of brands that included international corporations including Amer Sports (Salomon, Atomic) right through to smaller British start-ups such as Kymira who produce innovative base layer garments and Big Balls Collective with their collection of colourful beanies.
DAHU launched in the UK market for the very first time with their ISPO award winning ski boot that has an inner that can be worn independently from the outer shell.
Other newcomers to the show this year included the well-established Italian CMP clothing brand who are looking to increase their exposure in the UK market.
Visitor numbers for the 2016 show were slightly down on the previous two years averaging at just over 200 a day.
This was noticeable at the K2 Café, where even during the peak lunch hour, queuing was non-existent – great for the people that were there, but surely there’s more to the UK snowsports industry than 200 people?
For the retailers who did attend, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to really get stuck into next year’s product as Steve Wells from national retailer explained: ‘Once again SLIDE perfectly matched my needs, lots of space to talk and do business, with samples of all the new products I wanted to see. So much easier to achieve what you want compared to ISPO. It felt like a very positive show this year with a good mix of companies. I will be back!’
The SLIDE awards were also announced on Wednesday evening at the SIGB annual general meeting for three categories that include Hardware (skis and boots), Software (Clothing) and accessories (pretty much everything else).
The awards are independently judged by the winter sports media and retailers in attendance at the show and there were 35 individual items submitted. The winners were:
Hardware: Lange XT130 Freetour Boot
Software: Head Quantum Jacket
Accessories: Dragon X1 Goggle
Scott Dobson from Lange said: “From Lange’s point of view this is a great accolade. We are happy that the judges have acknowledged the effort we have put in to develop ski boots over the last seven years. Lange is a premium boot brand and we feel that in the XT 130 Freetour we have a premium product that occupies the space between freeride and touring, a growing area of the market”.
This ‘growing area of the market’ is reflected in many of the new products that hardware brands are launching after we saw Salomon in the 2014-15 trade show season, launch their MTN range – aimed specifically at skiers who like to tour and need a lightweight ski set up with high performance credentials.
Other new ski touring related products that we saw at SLIDE include the Trigger Vertical Pole from Leki with an adapted grip to make it easier to hike and then ride and the Lupo Carbon Ti freeride touring boot from Dalbello (lightweight, high performance).
But whilst manufactures are focusing on this growing area of the market, other issues affecting the trade were discussed during the AGM on the Wednesday evening – the main concern being a growing threat from oversees online retailers disguising themselves as British with .co.uk domains.
With a ‘bricks and mortar’ set up in their home country they are legitimately purchasing goods from key brands and undercutting the margins that are required for British retailers.
As a consumer, you might think you’re buying from a British company, but you are not.
Many might suggest this is competition but whatever it is, British retailers need to act to ensure they protect their business in the future.
Another ‘threat’ discussed was the worrying growth in what’s known as ‘Showrooming’ where a ‘customer’ browses in store and then blatantly purchases the same product online for a cheaper price, or on their smartphone, or sometimes in the store itself.
Of course, all of this provides the consumer with opportunities to drive pricing down and therefore potentially, traditional retailers may be priced out of business.
It remains to be seen who has the answers to these issues and that was not something addressed during the meeting at SLIDE.
Next stop is ISPO in Munich from Sunday 24th January to Wednesday 27th, a very different affair with all the worlds action and winter sports brands under one roof.
And a big roof it is, currently standing as one of the worlds largest trade events across all industries.
Following that the stop for the SIGB is Kuhtai in Austria at the end of February (22-26) where the manufacturers bring their products to the snow for the retailers and media to try it out in the place it’s designed for.
PlanetSKI will be reporting on both events and bringing you the very latest on what will be hot for the 2016-17 ski season.
Rob Stewart is a freelance snowsports writer and director of Ski Press – a marketing and PR company for the UK snowsports industry.
See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.
For the spirit of the mountains