We went to the “Get Ready for Brexit” OIA Forum

October 28, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 

By Stephanie Briggs

Did I really want to go to this?  Not really, not to hear more about Brexit.  But on the upside, industry people were going to be there – I like them – and running a business that’s shipping things in and out of the EU means I probably should take a bit of an interest in the process.  Maybe, just maybe, the Forum will make me feel better about the whole thing.

Andrew Denton [Chairman of the OIA] and his reliable, hard-working team which included the good folks at MCS hosted this Government-funded Brexit Forum.  It was open to both members and non-members.

Held at the Royal Geographical Society building, close to London’s South Kensington, the team put together an all-encompassing roster of speakers to address what Denton referred to as “the most important thing to happen in this country economically since the second world war”.   

‘Brexit guru’ Mark Essex of KPMG was the first speaker;  I liked his easy, approachable manner.  It soon became clear that there’s no way to make it simple because there are so many variables, but he had drawn up an interesting, colour-coded matrix which helped track some ifs and their consequent outcomes.  Essex is renowned for pretty accurately predicting the Brexit vote [a vote to leave of between 51% and 53%].  I have to admit, his historic, wise prediction gave me hope that he could predict a bright and rosy future for us.  That, sadly, wasn’t the case. 

He, like many in the room it seemed, voted remain but as he said, “pretty quickly accepted losers’ consent.”  He identified himself as a member of one of four tribes, the Accepting Pragmatist.  In fact, it’s the existence of these tribes that’s making it so tricky to just get on with it.  Other tribes he outlined included:

  • Die-hard Brexiteers.
  • Cautious Optimists – those that voted out but perhaps think it’s not everything they thought it would be.
  • Accepting Pragmatists – those that voted remain but are trying to make the best of it.
  • Devastated Pessimists.

You end up with a situation where each tribe treats the other with trepidation and doesn’t trust it to pass legislation.  A kind of prisoner’s dilemma.  You probably have a majority in the House of Commons he said, but they aren’t voting that way for fear that their worst nightmare might come true. 

Essex couldn’t see EU leaders looking to promote difficulty regarding an extension, but his worry was non-state actors.  Disillusioned fishing fleets, people making mistakes and not understanding how things work, ports going through a state of disruption through the attitudes of people using them to demonstrate their feelings – rather than the politics itself. 

His talk triggered several questions including “What happens if the house doesn’t accept the timing plan and the EU won’t grant the extension and they physically run out of time?” to which he replied that this was quite unlikely.  Ralph at Rosker made me smile when he said getting through to the Civil Service on the topic was like trying to get Glastonbury tickets.  “Would the UK be a catalyst for the rest of Europe to exit?” asked Stephen Bailey of OutdoorGear to which Essex replied, “I think much of Europe, having seen the angst that we have gone through, might be put off for a while!” 

Arne Strate, General Secretary of the EOG reassured everyone that whilst we may be leaving the EU we’re not leaving Europe.  “We’ll continue to create meaningful programmes with you like the single-use plastics project” said Strate.  “The changes might be annoying, but there will still be trade and we will still need each other.  The outdoor sector has this ability to work together, stay agile and work around these issues.  I think the trade as a whole will pull through and I think we will still be able to prosper in the future” he said. Better news then.

Oscar White, founder of Beyonk, bounded on stage and enthusiastically invited everyone to get into teams to brainstorm the opportunities and threats associated with Brexit.  Whilst we all focused on doom and gloom.  The threat side of the flip chart was chokka but we eventually turned a corner and started seeing the light.  The opportunities started to sprout and hearteningly the opps column bulked-up a bit.  The main threats concerning the room were things like tariffs, currency fluctuations and labour issues.  Opportunities included direct budget savings, fiscal policy autonomy and the ability to become more efficient.

I don’t think there was a person in the room who didn’t take home Dan Peck of Efficio’s quote that “Brexit is a process not an event”.    He rightly pointed out that we have already seen change as a result of the Brexit process: Sterling has dropped since the referendum and is much more volatile than it has been in the past and migration to the UK has dropped considerably.

I was interested to learn from Kurt Janson of The Tourism Alliance that 38 m people visit the UK every year with 25 m coming from the EU.  This surprised me as did the amount they spend – £23 billion.  Did you know tourism in the UK is the second largest export earner in the service sector after finance?  Sadly, though we are making it really difficult for overseas visitors and already between 5-10% of French and Germans are scrapping the UK from their travel plans.

James Allen, founder at Counsel kicked off his talk by extolling the virtues of the UK outdoor industry.  The second largest outdoor economy in Europe.  As a sector we make a significant economic contribution in terms of retail and visitors.  But the larger contribution is the indirect difference we make to the well-being of the population which is enormous.  He pointed out that the outdoor sector is clearly neglected by policy makers whereas mainstream sport did very well.  In fact, he said the sports sector generally has failed the current generation.  We live in a wealthy society but 80% of children just aren’t active enough.  He raised an interesting point: why is it that there’s a bike-to-work subsidy but nothing for walking?  “Brexit” said Allen “can be a way of getting into conversation with the Government”.

So how did I feel after all that?  Well, there is still work to be done to get Spring PR Brexit ready but I do have an EORI number and we all have more than six months on our passports so we’ll be at ISPO.  It was great to be in a room with people that shared the same fears as me with experts that were unable to predict the future but who overall made us feel that everything’s going to be okay.  The problem it seems, is the limbo we are currently in, what lies ahead, on the other side, could really be quite positive but how can we know until we are actually there?  I for one am willing to give whatever outcome we end up with my full support.  I am, after all, an Accepting Pragmatist.

Mastering Boardmasters

September 30, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 

This summer, just hours before the gates were due to open, the ever-popular Boardmasters Festival was cancelled due to severe weather warnings. It was a big blow (sorry for the pun!) to Spring and our client, Hydro Flask, who had exciting plans for the surfing and music event.

So how do you turn news like this into a positive result for your client? Our very own event-extraordinaire, Abbie, was on hand to make sure it was a success.

Why did you choose to attend the Boardmasters event on behalf of Spring?

“We attended Boardmasters because vacuum insulated drinking bottle brand, Hydro Flask, is becoming super popular with the surf market, no doubt thanks to the fact Hydro Flask sponsor the World Surf League in the USA. Attending Boardmasters, a festival which celebrates surf and music, was the perfect way to target those consumers.”

What were your plans for the event?

“Our biggest pull was the fact we were giving away a massive 400 bottles over the weekend through our ‘beer pong’ game. The queue to play the game was never-ending! On top of this, we were selling on the stand and we also offered MyHydro for the first time in Europe, which allows consumers to personalise their bottle with a different colour lid, strap and boot.”

How much time and effort had you put into your planning?

“Attending large events, especially for the first time, always takes a lot of planning. We started preparing for Boardmasters a year in advance (August 2018) and then preparation was continuous from then until the actual event in August 2019. Time spent planning increased in the final months prior.”

How did you find out about the cancellation news?

“We found out about the cancellation in the middle of the night after receiving an email from the Boardmasters team. Strangely though, we’d actually heard from a hotel concierge that they were going to cancel the day before it was announced due to the impending weather but brushed this off as a rumour. Little did we know…”

What was your first reaction…and then your second!?

“Sh*t! was my first. My second was a mash-up of thoughts about my next steps: phone the volunteer staff, let the UK sales agent, Matt, know, get in contact with our van driver to see if he can come early… It was definitely a moment of sheer panic! Thankfully, I’d just taken up yoga so took a deep breath, did a forward fold and let Leonie from Hydro Flask in Swizterland know (who had also come over to help) before making calls. Once we were up and dressed, we headed down to the festival site to find out what was going on.”

How did your prior planning help you to react positively?

“Everything was very organised, from saving phone numbers to having a Gantt chart with all the details of the festival on which it made it really easy to give people the heads up. I think it’s fine to have a moment of complete panic so long as you can pull yourself together and get on with it afterwards.”

How did your plans change?

“The music festival was cancelled completely but the Fistral Beach site, where Hydro Flask was positioned, was opened on the Wednesday and Thursday – then closed Friday until Sunday. We made the most of the two days at the Fistral Beach site and had what the organisers called ‘the busiest stand at the festival’.”What did you get out of the day in the end?

“We met with lots of really great consumers, saw some awesome surfers and also made connections with other brands who attended the event. We had huge queues of people lining up to play our beer pong game and we even got rid of 200 Hydro Flask bottles per day! It was a really successful event for the two days that we were there, and we loved every minute of it.  The sun shone for the first two days with the storm hitting at 5 pm on Thursday night – just as we were packing down.”

Would you go again? “One million per cent.”


Spring’s First #LDNPopUp!

August 21, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 



Super, smashing, great! That’s the conclusion following our first-ever LDNPopUp media event that we held last month.

An evolution of our more traditional annual Open House event, LDNPopUp took place over two days and featured a lunchtime yoga session, evening adventure film night and daytime brand showcase event. 

“We wanted to change things up and refresh. Open House has always been a great event for us, but we’ve done it for a few years now and we wanted to try something new,” says Stephanie. “Over the last few years both Spring and our clients have made some great contacts in the adventure, outdoors and active lifestyle world and so we wanted a more inclusive event that would still be of interest to our media contacts, as well as attract new media.”

Jo agrees, “It was great to have a mix of events in order to highlight all our brands and the associated athletes/ambassadors.  We like to keep things fresh and added some fun extras like the photo booth (see below) and a Burrito van which went down a treat.”
However, Jo adds that it wasn’t without its challenges as the temperature soared to 39 degrees in the sunny capital, affecting people’s ability to travel and even causing a power cut halfway through the Pop-Up event. “We were really impressed with the way everyone responded,” says Jo. “Everyone was highly professional and just carried on chatting about the products on show.  We soon got things up and running again.”

Abbie, who was responsible for much of the event organisation says “it was a proud moment to see it all come to fruition. Everyone has worked so hard to make these two days happen and we were so pleased to see so many new and old faces turn up and really benefit from the event.”

We want to say a huge thank you to all of our clients, media contacts, ambassadors and speakers who came along and made the event such a success. Here is just a small selection of some of the responses we’ve received:

Chris Davison, CDA Limited: “Very impressed with the event and the way you guys put it together. Met some very interesting people and the positive reaction to Darn Tough and the product blew me away.”

Ethan Walker, Mammut: “We both had a great time and really enjoyed meeting such a psyched bunch of people. Those burritos were pretty special too!”

Stuart Leach Exped 5050:We both thoroughly enjoyed it and there was a good variety of speakers.”

Lilian Sullivan, Ardblair Sports:Thanks for organising another great event.  It really is apparent that you and your team put a tremendous amount of effort into making these a success.”

Suzanne Jones, Travel Blogger: “Just a line to say thank you for a really enjoyable event yesterday. Some fab brands, great food and it was lovely to meet you and the team.”

OutDoor by ISPO Round Up

July 19, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 

#TeamSpringOnTour

July is one of the biggest months in our industry for trade events. For the first time, ISPO moved locations from Friedrichshafen to Munich and was renamed ‘OutDoor by ISPO’. According to Jo, it was “hot, hot, hot! We won’t be packing our jeans next year”.

Did Munich work?

Although the show appeared busy, we were under the impression that there were fewer people than normal, “As a new show it was quieter than past events in Friedrichshafen; but then some brands were perhaps being cautious and not committing to the first one in order to check it out and make a decision for next year.”

But Stephanie ponders whether it was an illusion, “I wonder if it was because the halls are bigger and the walkways between a lot wider. I believe the attendance figures were similar to last year, but because the space is configured differently it felt emptier. 

It’s a thought mirrored by Outdoori journalist, Peter Luscombe, who was impressed by the planning and layout of the halls with their open aspect and wide spaces resulting in a “much more productive atmosphere” with the feeling of a “shared event rather than a succession of meetings”.

“Saying that”, adds Stephanie, “there were definitely fewer journalists flying out. Based on our records, media attendance was down 30 per cent – which could be explained by OTS in Manchester being a week later.” 

New style ‘hubs’ became informal breakout areas where people could mingle, network and learn. Spring client, Nikwax, discussed sustainability at the CSR hub and AKU talked about sustainability in footwear at the Sustainability Kiosk in Hall A5.


In the evenings, the new location proved to be good fun and great for catching up with clients properly. Jo said: “We got the opportunity to have dinner with Lilian and Simon from Ardblair Sports at a restaurant in the centre of Munich.” But Stephanie adds that there was still a longing for the atmosphere of Fred, “In conversations there was a relief that it wasn’t such a pain to get to but there was a cathartic longing for Friedrichshafen and its idiosyncratic villages and the lake with the beautiful restaurants that surround it. The outdoor vibe that was prevalent isn’t so prolific in Munich.”

But the new location did please with it being logistically much more manageable and easier to get to: “It was lovely to see Munich in summer as we’ve only ever seen it in winter whilst being knee-deepin snow.” Said Jo, Abbie added: “Munich is also great because there’s a u-Bahn metro system making everything easily commutable.”

 What were the results?

According to ISPO and cited by Outdoori, there were 1,018 exhibitors with 84 per cent of them being international. They were all vying for the attention of 22,000 trade visitors. ISPO called it a “huge success” with 87 per cent of their visitors rating this first event as good to excellent. The style of the halls was slightly different – as referenced above – organised more like a shopping mall and making stalls more eye-catching for passing trade. According to Outdoori, OutDoor by ISPO “hit the mark” and fully justified the confidence of its stakeholders.

 2019 trends?

There were two incredibly obvious trends this year: plastic-free and sustainable. “This was plain to see in the use of materials the stands were made up of – both recycled and upcycled materials made a big impact.” Says Jo. The lack of carpet, which must produce an incredibly hideous amount of waste for trade shows normally, didn’t go unnoticed also. 

“Nikwax had ingenuously taken a crate which had been full of product brought to the show and repurposed it into their reception desk. AKU was interesting as well as it had chosen to design its logo using recycled corrugated cardboard.”

When it comes to colour we all noticed two in particular –“electric blue with flashes of yellow” says Abbie, with Mammut and AKU (left) showcasing new boots in this fashion-forward colourway. This bright, colourful vibe was also witnessed at Hydro Flask and LEKI who had both incorporated exciting neon detailing in its 2020 products. 

There was a healthier feel to the show as well with fewer sweets and treats on the stands and more fruit – like big bowls of apples – which was good to see.

Who hit the mark?

We loved the reveal of LifeStraw’s new Home pitcher and Darn Tough’s vintage vibe with its range of athletic socks (right). Following Peter Luscombe’s thoughts, Jo said: “The Mammut stand was open and spacious and had a really cool rope making machine in the middle of the stand that generated rope in a mesmerising fashion. It was then cut into pieces and made into key rings to celebrate Mammut’s heritage with a Swiss flag design.” (Left).

Stephanie says, I loved the Borderlands area where Polartec was. It gave off a young, independent vibe and was very different to the rest of the trade show experience. The stands couldn’t have been more different: Polartec comprised a shipping container, was on two levels and had a structure made out of scaffolding poles. It was a bold move to break from the norm into this new concept area but we think it was a good one.”

This meant Polartec was close to many of the lifestyle brands giving them a chance to showcase their growth away from purely traditional outdoor activity clothing. Something you can read about in our interview with Gary Smith.

Peak Mountaineering’s Pick & Play

June 26, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 
This month we spoke to Peak Mountaineering’s Paul Lewis, a blogger, mountain training provider and long-time friend of Spring PR, about his Peak District Pick & Play event hosted back in May. Pick & Play sees families, friends and outdoor enthusiasts come together for a day of outdoor activities and litter picking. This year was his biggest event yet.

Your Pick & Play has been running for six years now. What spurred you on in the first instance to start?

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