Columbia launches OIA drive

Outdoor brand launches promotion to get independent retailers to sign up with OIA

Columbia UK has launched an incentive to drive new members to sign up with the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) by offering all independent retailers product at wholesale to the value of their membership fee for a year, when they sign up to the association for the first time.

OIA said businesses who qualify for this offer can effectively recoup their initial investment straight away, but will then also be able to take advantage of the other benefits and services provided by it.

At the recent inaugural OIA conference, chair Corry Taylor issued a rallying cry to all outdoor organisations to work closely with the association to build the industry’s size and influence and to collaborate on projects designed to encourage more people to experience the outdoors.  

Taylor also challenged delegates to help recruit new members to OIA, with a particular focus on the independent retail sector. Membership fees for small businesses start from £200 and using the association’s full suite of benefits and services can quickly lead to savings of over £1,000.

It is hoped that the addition of the offer from Columbia, which is not limited to the brand’s existing accounts, will help to attract even more independents to the organisation.

OIA said its membership has been growing steadily as the association has become more active and relevant. Led by a new, proactive board, OIA has introduced a range of improved products and services that deliver direct cost savings to members, while also giving them access to industry data and research, along with numerous other benefits.

Later this year, the association will launch an industry retail training programme, helping to increase productivity and raise standards across the sector. OIA members will enjoy reduced rates for participating in the scheme.

In addition, the association is raising its game in promoting the outdoors to the general public and will soon launch The Active Guide, an interactive website designed to help consumers find their way to outdoor activities around the UK. The site will offer all outdoor businesses the opportunity to promote themselves to a wide mainstream audience, with an enhanced presence for OIA members.

Louise Ramsay, chief executive of the OIA, said: “We already have 48 retailers as members, but that’s really just a drop in the ocean. We have many benefits and services that are very clearly designed to assist smaller businesses. Our membership fees are already very reasonable, but this great offer from Columbia means that businesses literally have nothing to lose, and a lot to gain.

“These are critical times for our industry and more than ever we need a strong collective voice. That’s what the OIA can provide, but only if we have significant support from across the sector. With the active backing of Columbia UK and other existing members, this year’s recruitment drive will be our most important and sustained to date. I believe that we now have a compelling package to offer to all businesses in the industry and I look forward to welcoming many new members over the next few months.”

Newly appointed OIA board member Anthony Greasby, from independent retailer Countryside Ski & Climb, said: “I think it’s time for independent retailers to sit up and take notice. This is the only trade organisation that’s specifically going to make a difference in our own industry, and I really can’t find any reasons why anyone wouldn’t want to be part of that.”