Trends & Features



OTS 2021 marked a milestone in the post pandemic recovery of the UK outdoor trade. Probably the first UK trade show event to go ahead as the country emerges from Covid restrictions, OTS went ahead last week over three days (29th June – 1st July) at the Exhibition Centre, Liverpool. The new modern venue on Liverpool waterfront proved to be popular with exhibitors and visitors alike with the vibrant atmosphere at the show proving that everyone is keen to engage ‘face to face’ again.

With 110 exhibitors and a huge variety of product ranges to see, buyers from the major multiples and leading independents made the effort to exploit the opportunity to seek out new products, place forward orders and network with friends and colleagues from the trade.

At the show, the winners of the 2021 UK Outdoor Industry Awards were presented with their trophies and the Awards Display area proved a popular feature with visitors. The Sustainability Breakfast sponsored by Rab on Wednesday morning was oversubscribed by delegates eager to learn more about the sustainability initiatives from brands such as Rab as well as organisations including the BMC, OIA, and the EOG.

Exhibitors and visitors were unanimous in praising the effectiveness of the show and welcomed the return to normality.
Mark Wood, Sports Division Sales Manager at Scott Sports said, “A great show was put on in difficult times and appreciate the time, effort and work you must have put in to make it happen. The venue, quality of visitors and general ‘ambiance’ exceeded our expectations and came away from the show with smiles on our faces, some normality back in our lives and some new retailers to work with.”

European General Manager for Exxel Outdoors was equally upbeat about the show, “OTS was a fantastic show. We had back to back appointments and the quality of buyers attending was clear. Aside from it being a great opportunity to get back in front of people it was great to see the camaraderie and collective support in the industry. Kelty and Sierra Designs will definitely be back in 2022.”
Sonia Prior, sales Director at Bradshaw Taylor commented, “I’m delighted to report that Bradshaw Taylor enjoyed a productive show across all brands. There were sufficient buyers from both key accounts and independent retailers to keep us busy throughout the show and it was great to experience an optimistic outdoor industry, despite the pandemic. The team enjoyed positive discussions with customers seeking industry partners to enable them to grow their business and thankfully Bradshaw Taylor offers some exciting new and great staple brand alternatives. Generally, there was a good vibe at the show, everyone seemed delighted to be back together as an industry again – Big thanks to the OIA and MCS for persevering and making it happen!
Owner of The Walking Hub retail store, Ali Allen had a great day at OTS 2021. “Fantastic venue in Liverpool docks. Really friendly atmosphere with quality exhibits representing both large and small brands. Loved the sustainability breakfast, vegan food and eco- friendly approach. Very well organised. Well done!”

Dan Pearson, COO, Ultralight Outdoor Gear Ltd, A cracking selection of brands on show given the current pandemic. It was brilliant to finally be able to meet people face to face, we’ve really missed that over the past 18 months. Many thanks to those brands who attended, we greatly appreciated their efforts.
Making the trip from Llanberis, Dylan Jones from Crib Goch Outdoor provided the following comment, “Just a little thanks you for OTS this year. I attended all 3 days there. Feedback on location was top notch, brilliant hotels, reasonable and plenty things to do in the evening. Well worth the trip.”

Sam Fernando from Keela echoed the sentiments of many industry colleagues with her feedback, “Once again, OTS, the Outdoors Trade Show, showed its grit and resilience by leading the industry and the whole country in hosting one of the first in-person shows since the Pandemic started. Located at the outstanding Liverpool waterfront, the show was dynamic and positive, with a real buzz in the aisles. Forget the footie, OTS has come home.”
Looking ahead to the winter season, Lesley Beck organiser of Slide & OTS Winter, had a presence at the show to meet up with prospective exhibitors, “It was really pleasing that all those at OTS were already aware of the joint Slide & OTS Winter show planned for January and everyone was interested to hear more. Just 2 weeks after launching the show, over 47% of the stand space has already been sold, so it’s been a great start. We are following up all the interest expressed at OTS last week as quickly as possible to match exhibitors to the most suitable stand space.”

OTS organiser Marta Williams had the last word, “Having found a new home for OTS, plans are in place to return to Liverpool in June 2022 and build on the success that we experienced this year.”

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