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Apparel helps to boost European outdoor market

The European outdoor market grew by both value and volume during 2016, with a notable "strong" growth in apparel, new figures show.

Latest results from the European Outdoor Group's (EOG) State of Trade market research programme, found that the market increased by 3% in value and 3.4% in volume during the year and was worth EUR5.47bn (US$6.1bn) at wholesale, with an estimated retail value of EUR11.5bn.

The research found "strong" growth in apparel, up 4.2% in value and 6.3% in volume, and accessories saw 3.5% growth in value and 3.1% in volume. Growth, however, slowed in footwear after several buoyant years, but continues to be "solid and significant" within the overall outdoor market place, EOG says.

The growth represents a significant improvement on 2015 and demonstrates that the sector is continuing to perform well, EOG adds.

The group, which works to promote responsible practices within Europe's outdoor wear industry, used data from 115 brands from across Europe, analysing sell-in information for seven main categories and 48 separate sub-categories.

The State of Trade 2016 results provide a positive contrast to the 2015 results, which saw very modest growth of 1.4% in value and 0.8% in volume. During 2016, an extra 6.9m units were sold-in to retail across Europe.

Other findings include healthy growth in value in most regions, which are defined in State of Trade by geography and climate, rather than any other considerations.

The GAS region grew by 3%, the UK and Benelux by 3.1%, Southern (including Spain, Italy and France) grew by 2.5%, Eastern Europe by 2.1%, and Scandinavia was up by 3%.

"The top line figures paint a more positive picture for 2016 compared to the previous year, with healthy growth in most categories and geographical areas," says Pauline Shepherd, head of market research at the EOG. "There was good performance in both summer and winter seasons, with winter in particular recovering well after two difficult years."

Meanwhile, the EOG, together with its members and partners, recently formed an Outdoor Industry Microfibre Consortium, bringing together global players in the outdoor industry with the aim of developing a better understanding of how synthetic microfibres are being increasingly identified as one major source of ocean pollution.

The consortium is being led by brands including Berghaus, Finisterre, Haglöfs, Helly Hansen, Mammut, Norrøna, Salewa, and The North Face, and is supported by outdoor brands such as Alpkit, and Jack Wolfskin, as well as fabric and yarn suppliers Shinkong Synthetic Fibres Corporation, and Little King.

In its first phase, the group will take a two-pronged approach to investigate the shedding rates and mechanisms of fabrics frequently used in outdoor apparel, with the goal an open source database that details research findings about the effect polymer, yarn, and textile structure may play on microfibre shedding.