The 2023 Outdoor Trade Show saw record numbers of visitors and exhibitors, enjoying three days of buying and selling, product and industry updates and social events.
136 exhibitors promoted their brands and products at the show, up from 125 in 2022, and 920 unique visitors attended across the three show days, an 11% increase on last year and a 28% increase on 2021. In addition, the number of people visiting OTS for more than one day increased for the second year running, with 1,191 visitors representing an 11% increase from last year and 35% from 2021, and suggesting that buyers are spending more time at the show.
With exhibitors ranged across 8000 square metres of floor space and a huge variety of new and innovative product ranges to see, buyers from the major multiples and leading independents were there to seek out the new products, place forward orders and network with friends and colleagues from the trade.
Sustainability was a key theme across the show. At the OTS Social on the Wednesday evening, the finalists in ten categories of the 2023 UK Outdoor Industry Awards were announced – a sustainability category was featured for the first time – and the Awards Display area at the show attracted a great deal of interest from visitors. with a record 113 products on display.
Similarly, Wednesday morning’s Sustainability Breakfast, once again sponsored by Rab, was well attended and supported by brands, retailers and the media, all keen to hear and learn more about sustainability initiatives and brand journeys towards becoming more carbon neutral. The over-subscribed event saw an introduction from Debbie Read, Head of Corporate Communications and CSR for Equip Outdoor technologies, followed by Giulio Piccin from Aku, Etta Lathans-Pons and Roose Virkunnen from Waterbear, and Dr Jane Turnbull from the European Outdoor Group, who addressed sustainability from the point of view of carbon footprint reduction, circularity in the outdoor industry and engaging communities to bring about effective change.
Praise for OTS 2023 has already poured in from visitors and exhibitors alike. Amongst the exhibitors, Kieron MacKenzie from New Heights said, “OTS and Liverpool delivered a great trade event, it attracted quality retailers in volume making the investment to exhibit really worthwhile.”
Matt, from ProAgencies said: “A professionally organised and well attended event, we saw even more of our customers here this year. If you are serious about the UK outdoor industry you can’t afford to miss it.”
Richard White from Lifemarque highlighted the benefits of exhibiting at OTS. He said: “We were busy throughout the show with lots of appointments and plenty of walk-ons. We’re excited to follow up on all the discussions we had. Great organisation and a great mix of customers attending.”
Jobe Sports said:. “It was a very valuable platform for us,” they said, “and a bridge from watersports into the outdoor industry. We were able to gain some new contacts and do some networking with existing clients. Overall a great week!”
Exhibitors noted the wide appeal of OTS to brands and companies across the outdoor industry, including Sam Canning from Bluebird: “A great show, the team left excited with the potential the show gave us. A good mix of independent and national retailers, a melting pot for heritage and up and coming brands, the perfect mix.”
Visitor feedback was similarly positive, including:
• “The OTS show is a must attend event for us, it’s a very efficient way of doing meaningful business across multiple categories. A great pleasure visiting, both business-wise and socially.” – Paul Casey, The Climbers Shop & Joe Brown Shops
• “A wonderful show, found it exceptionally beneficial and a lovely venue to catch up with colleagues in the industry” – Daniel Williams, Absolute Snow
• “Absolutely brilliant show, can’t wait for next year” – Russ, Hit the Trail
• “The Show of The Year” – Dylan Jones, Crib Goch Outdoor
OTS organiser Marta Williams added: “OTS is now very well settled in Liverpool, with the venue and location really helping in maximising the effectiveness of the show. We look forward to a fruitful ongoing relationship with the Exhibition Centre, as OTS continues to grow year on year.”
OTS 2024 will take place at the Liverpool Exhibition Centre once again, from 18th to 20th June 2024, the June dates positioned to match brand order book deadlines. Due to the success of the show’s current location, Liverpool is very likely to remain OTS’s venue for the foreseeable future.