After discussions at EOG Board level, EOG President Mark Held has issued a public statement on behalf of the association:
“As we move from one stage of the pandemic to another, and at different paces around the world, businesses are continuing to need to adapt to new situations and at times, deal with some very difficult challenges. The outdoor industry has matured and grown over recent decades and in the process, has established a truly global supply chain. While this has become one of our sector’s great strengths, in common with many other sectors, the resilience of that is being sorely tested at the moment.
“The impact of repeated COVID lockdowns, transport price surges, and raw materials getting more and more expensive, all put immense pressure on the integrity of normally robust supply chains. EOG members and businesses in other sectors are reporting very significant issues in Asia. For example, in Vietnam almost 50% of factories are closed due to the pandemic, which is especially concerning for all involved in the textile industry value chain, but the problem does not stop there. Reports from Goldman Sachs indicate that ‘according to press reports and comments in the purchasing managers’ indexes, restrictions have included temporary factory closures in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, as well as closures of ports where outbreaks occurred.’1
“Just as, if not more, concerning, is a growing feeling that the policy response from most countries in Asia has not been enough to stop virus spread from increasing. This presents a real prospect of a sustained period of intermittent and widespread factory closures, all of which is a nightmare scenario for anyone who is managing the logistics of a business in our (or any) sector. Brands struggle to manufacture, transport and supply goods, while retailers cannot guarantee that they will have stock available for consumers. In an era in which ‘just in time’ has been a mantra for many, the current situation is exposing some very major, dangerous vulnerabilities, and threatening businesses around the world. Accepting that disruption is inevitable as a result of these factors is crucial, whether you are a brand or a retailer, and it is a fact that no one company is responsible for this situation. This in turn means that we all need to be tolerant and work together to find the best solutions possible.
“Outdoor businesses are already acutely aware of these issues and unfortunately, there are no simple solutions. Those organisations with well-established and robust business continuity plans are probably best equipped to deal with these problems, but even some of them are struggling right now. The Financial Times reports that the disruptions ‘have prompted larger manufacturers and retailers to consider strengthening their supply chains by holding more stock, double sourcing or even reshoring production. But this comes at a cost and for many small companies it has turned into a matter of survival.’2
“Since the start of the pandemic, we at the EOG have been on the front foot, working hard to support our members – and the wider sector – as much as we can. This manifests itself in many ways, whether that is quickly sharing the latest relevant information and news, lobbying policy makers on the outdoor sector’s behalf, promoting responsible and sustainable outdoor participation to citizens who emerge from lockdown, preparing for the appropriate return to face-to-face trade events (for example, at the OutDoor by ISPO Global Summit Edition in October), making vital connections between firms, or simply encouraging continued collaboration across the industry to address these huge overarching issues that affect us all.
“Leading effective collaboration for the good of the whole sector is the core foundation on which the EOG was built and it’s why our association has grown and thrived. We have always maintained that cooperation and understanding are key to overall sectoral survival and growth, and we have publicly reinforced this position several times during the pandemic. Keeping a focus on that is more important than ever right now. It can be difficult to do so for a business that is facing urgent day-to-day difficulties, but time and again we have seen that acting with at least one eye on the bigger picture is the only way to achieve longer term viability and success.
“That is certainly what we are doing and we urge all companies to take a similar approach. We continue to provide the immediate support and information that our members need, while simultaneously, and fully backed by our board, our executive team is exploring how the outdoor industry’s supply chain can be made more resilient for material and component suppliers, brands, retailers, and all of the other vital links. This is no small task, but we are addressing it because that is exactly what an organisation like the EOG is supposed to do on behalf of the industry that it represents.”