A rough ride - The equestrian industry in times of Corona
Hardly a stone has been left unturned during the past 18 months. competition sports and riding schools have suffered, sometimes severely, from lockdowns and restrictions. However, after an initial shock, everything about recreational riding and private horse ownership not only continued, but went on an encouraging growth trajectory in the 2020 Covid-19 year. Spoga horse Blog spoke to dealers and suppliers and reports: The equestrian industry got off easy after a pretty hefty emotional and financial roller coaster ride. In addition to the ongoing supply of feed, hoof care and services, the equestrian dealers actually picked up strongly. Because the need is there, the market for horses is "empty swept", we hear from stable owners, with top prices paid even for foals.
Despite or just because of their difficult situation, many consumers were ready in the last months to invest larger sums - as in riding stables life was allowed to go on relatively normally and this “time out” with the horse was experienced as particularly positive. There was a clear trend towards second or third horses, and consequently a lot of demand for equipment: "The saddle sector has virtually exploded," reports Mathias Raschat, Managing Director of the Euroriding purchasing association. Many well-known names such as Reitsport Manski, Voss, Klawunde or Kavalio belong to the group. Raschat reports over 10 percent growth for all the suppliers in the central regulation of the association. However, supply problems in some production countries are now becoming noticeable. "In India, production capacities are currently at around 30 percent of pre-Covid levels, which of course affects the deliveries" says Raschat. Freight costs - above all container freight - have roughly doubled.
Accordingly, purchase prices are rising and some suppliers have unexpectedly revised their price lists upward in the middle of the season. Nevertheless, Raschat states that "there would be even more sales possible if the orders were shipped," and speaks of saddle manufacturers whose customers currently have to reckon roughly 14 months of delivery time. Andreas Schuldt, owner of Reitsport Schuldt in Schenefeld, confirms this. Many of his suppliers, especially in the leather goods sector, deliver several weeks late. Others have raised their prices by up to 25 percent during the season, which has had an impact: many a fly mask that was previously priced at €21.90 euros now costs €26.90 - which is certainly accepted by customers. All in all, the northern German retailer is very satisfied. Even during lockdowns, they had done the best business: "Hansepferd, Nordpferd, Chio Aachen and many other events, where people also purchased riding equipment, were down in 2020. We covered this demand because we were always open – thanks to the feed assortments. Many customers were simply happy to browse in a store again; so we also made significant turnover with gift items," says Schuldt.
However, the situation is not all roses for the whole equestrian sports retail world. On the winning side were those selling food and nutritional supplements, as they were allowed to stay open in most countries during the lockdown period – unlike brick-and-mortar colleagues who limited themselves to equipment only or those who typically do ancillary business with pop-up stores at events. In addition, established online or multichannel retailers with an online offering had a head start, even as some brick-and-mortar retailers gained quick access to e-commerce with marketplace offerings. "The pandemic has accelerated the move to online retail," says Julian Becker of Equiamor, who is pleased to see his online-only company growing.
All in all, the industry seems to have got off really well, not just with a black eye. With regard to the future, the mood is therefore also positive throughout - and anticipation is spreading to the next Spoga Horse. Because Zoom meetings with suppliers don't seem to have proved particularly successful in the trade: "Online presentations are simply no satisfactory substitute. You have to be able to touch product - clothing in particular - and you don't find new brands without trade shows either," says Andreas Schuldt.