INTERVIEW | 05/10/2022

"Trade shows remain an essential tool to connect with the industry"

Pieter de Bodt
Pieter de Bodt
Author:
Lars Becker

Ukraine war, pandemic with lockdowns in the Far East as well as supply difficulties: The outdoor industry is facing major challenges. All the more important is an industry meeting to discuss these and find new approaches. At least that's what Pieter de Bodt of Yonderland, Europe's largest outdoor premium retail chain, thinks. In an exclusive interview, he reveals why a visit to OutDoor by ISPO is important and which brands are coping particularly well with the crisis.

Yonderland is Europe's largest outdoor premium retail chain in Europe. The company's more than 190 stores in Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Ireland, France and Luxembourg as well as the e-commerce shops are also feeling the effects of the Ukraine war and the corona pandemic. In an exclusive interview with ISPO.com, Pieter de Bodt, Group Buying Manager at Yonderland, explains what is now particularly important for the entire industry. And explains why his company considers Outdoor by ISPO OutDoor by ISPO (June 12 to 14to be a very important hub right now.

ISPO.com: Pieter de Bodt, Outdoor by ISPO is taking place in complicated times for the outdoor industry and the whole world due to the corona pandemic and the Ukraine war...

Pieter de Bodt: That's right. And that's why it's important right now to meet again in person, to make personal contacts and to get an overview of the innovations in the industry. Of course, online meetings have been a blessing during the COVID peak, but trade shows remain an essential tool for connecting with the industry. Messe München has taken an important step in the right direction by adjusting the dates for Outdoor by ISPO and ISPO. Now it is important that as many relevant brands as possible are also on site. Especially since the challenges are bigger than ever before. 

 

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing the outdoor industry? 

First and foremost, of course, supply chain issues. It used to be a matter of course that products were in the right place at the right time. Now the most important job in the whole industry is to ensure exactly that. In addition, there is the problem of inflation and thus the problem of the right pricing for our customers. 

What do you mean specifically? 

Inflation puts more pressure on customer’s buying power in one country than another. This depends very much on the measures taken by the governments. On the other hand, we see an increasing demand for sustainability, which customers today translate mainly into longevity. In addition, costs are rising and there are delays in the supply chain. All this together results in rising sales prices. It is therefore quite a balancing act to convert the current boom in the outdoor industry into strong sales figures. Solid partnerships between retail and brands are more essential than ever, with a focus on sustainability issues combined with a clear distribution policy.

Pieter de Bodt
Pieter de Bodt, Group Buying Manager Yonderland.

Lockdown and war affect deliveries

In some areas, the demand is currently higher than the supply... 

We are in a trend where more and more people are (re)discovering nature and the outdoors while they are more & more aware of its vulnerability. As a result, people are buying more outdoor kit. At the same time we have those supply chain issues. While only a handful of brands are able to deliver the entire pre-order on time, there are a number of brands that have their deliveries under control. At the same time, there are also brands that are not able to guarantee a smooth delivery at all. I find this spread rather surprising.

What are the reasons for this? 

The various ongoing lockdowns in the Far East and in the ports & local transport in our own regions. On top of that comes the war in Ukraine. It’s the perfect storm. Long-term relations with for example freight forwarders will become even more important than the cheapest transport price. I believe the secret to delivery success is planning and guaranteed production & transport availability through those partnerships.

Would it still be a solution for the outdoor industry in Europe to produce more on our continent? 

That will definitely happen in some product groups, but it's simply not possible in others. Let's take outdoor jackets, for example - the fabric for them is also produced almost exclusively in Asia. Transporting the substance to Europe would also incur high costs. Also, I don't believe in generally demonizing production in countries like China or Myanmar. The people there also have to provide for their families and the outdoor industry makes an important contribution to this.

Outdoor by ISPO will provide an essential platform for these important discussions in the industry. What else do you expect from the central industry event in June? 

How will sustainability be translated in those products? I’m hoping for one or the other aha-experience in the innovations that are presented. We will definitely also visit Munich city, which is an ideal combination with Outdoor by ISPO.

 

What do you think is the most important outdoor trend? 

Customers are increasingly looking for top performance that they can use for various outdoor activities. Today's outdoor jacket is also used for skiing, for example. More and more people no longer buy three different jackets for three different activities, but prefer one more expensive jacket for everything.

What has been your favorite outdoor moment lately? 

It was nice to finally go skiing again in February. And then I remember a holiday in Norway in particular. The nature there is simply magnificent. 

Why is outdoor important in your life? 

Outdoors are incredibly important for mental and physical health. You can be outside in nature and enjoy it all together with family and friends. There is almost nothing better than that

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Author:
Lars Becker
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