ISRA means business

ISRA’s January show confirms once more why Ireland’s buying group answers the trade’s call for united retail strength

Bringing the sports retail industry together for dynamic enterprise is something that ISRA has been excelling at for some time – combining a first-hand knowledge of brand objectives with a unique insight into the nuances and character of the domestic market. So twice a year ISRA unites its membership for one-to-one time with some of the key players in the consumer eye.

The group has the strength to attract the likes of global names such as Under Armour, Umbro and Asics, alongside more traditional Gaelic headliners. A discerning focus on what its retailers need to develop their business potential with such brands adds to the attraction for members. ISRA also appoints key brand and category coordinators from its membership, involving them and using their expertise to the benefit of the entire group, who also enjoy participation in a dynamic online community through the ISRA website.

In the last year alone ISRA has also been an instrumental part of the European retail scene, taking advantage of a partnership with global trade show ispo to network with fellow Euro users. Members have been given access to the ispo Key Account programme, assisting them in visiting the show to gain inspiration from an exchange of retail ideas and information.

Additionally, the group has combined its national trade show with access to everything from etailing to visual merchandising and recent exclusive Q3 shows with Adidas in Dublin and Nike in London. The London show continued its success – Nike’s multisport specialist approach with the ISRA group proved highly effective and demonstrated that such partnerships yield positive gains for all involved.

The January 10 ISRA show took place once more at the superb Heritage golf and spa resort, where the purpose built exhibition centre showcased product against a well-lit and thoroughly professional backdrop. Providing the chance for leading brands and retailers alike to do excellent business in one great location is part of the attraction, the opportunity to combine that with a thoroughly relaxed few days of typically Irish networking is another. The buzz continued throughout the day into the small hours of increasingly lyrical discussion. But that’s the point – it’s the way that Ireland likes to add character to its commercial decisions.

Make no mistake, this is a powerful show – a fact recognised by members and suppliers alike, with 95 per cent of ISRA members in attendance and some suppliers reporting significant growth.

“We were very impressed with the professionalism of the ISRA show and the organisation behind it,” says Peter Conneely, regional sales manager at Under Armour Ireland. “In 2009 we experienced double digit growth from the members of the group we partner with, and we are confident that the growth in 2010 will surpass that judging by the extremely positive feedback on our AW10 range from our ISRA partners.”

The brand has put a lot of effort into training, as well as providing exceptional in-store POS to members. Umbro too has invested in a great package for ISRA members and the fresh, very different range was received well. Converse maintained its ‘must have’ footwear reputation, with ISRA newcomer DC spotting the show’s potential and bringing this world famous skate shoe name into the frame.

Running continues to be a very strong category amongst the group and Asics, Mizuno and Ronhill reported solid business, with ISRA gaining retail membership in this specialist market too. Q3 bags and GAA licensed ranges made an impact alongside SMU product, offering group members exclusive selections with enhanced margin. ISRA’s own ‘CORE’ range, which has gained momentum since its 2009 launch, added to the product portfolio.

“This show was very positive on a number of levels,” Tom Foley of ISRA commented to Sports Insight. “Suppliers and retailers were well aware of the current trading climate and, despite this, order writing exceeded expectation.

“The exceptional venue undoubtedly enhances this great business platform and everyone is thoroughly motivated by the opportunity. It has become far more than a show, rather an event at the heart of the Irish sports trade that has a prime place on the business calendar.”

There is no doubt that the additional initiatives that ISRA provides for members have been having an impact on the market; improved merchandising and staff training from brands such as Under Armour have enhanced many retail profiles.

“We continue to impress on suppliers the need for good in-store POS and merchandising advice, and we are increasingly working together on ideas to maximise retail opportunity in this way,” says Foley.

“Our mid-term meeting in April will set up small focus groups within the overall ISRA network to discuss in greater depth current issues affecting retailers. Networking and gaining best practice knowledge from each other is recognised by members as one of the key benefits of the group, and ISRA members are becoming renowned for upholding the maxim that buying well is more important than buying cheap.”

ISRA’s buying power and expertise means that the group also used the show to introduce new merchant services rates, regarded as the best in the trade. Suppliers also took time to acknowledge members by selecting the ISRA Retailer of the Year – My Sport of Enniscorthy, Wexford taking the title for 2009.

Small wonder that Ireland’s sports suppliers and retailers have already been busy answering the call to exhibit at the ISRA Summer Show, which takes place at the Heritage on July 12-13 and is virtually fully booked.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button