LOFA Sales Academy

LOFA Sales Academy

To offer more value and resources to LOFA members, LOFA has established the LOFA Sales Academy, a sales training and personal coaching programme in collaboration with Meta-Morphose. Based in Cheltenham, Meta-Morphose have been established for 30 years training sales agents from leading blue chip corporations including Westland and Fiskars.

This programme aims to address the challenges of a constantly evolving and complex business environment.

The programme focuses on refining sales techniques and developing negotiation skills, and it is delivered in three modules throughout the year. In addition, and to ensure the training becomes an integral part of the sales approach, personalised telephone coaching is also provided.

The Sales Academy is provided free of charge to LOFA members.

LOFA feels that this training will benefit not only LOFA member companies but also the outdoor leisure industry as a whole.

This opportunity is open to member employees 30 years and under.

At the end of the programme each candidate will receive a LOFA Sales Diploma and the top performer, based on the highest scores achieved throughout the 8-month course, will be announced at SOLEX and presented with a LOFA.

Sales Academy trophy.

Nominations for this bespoke Sales Training & Personal Coaching Programme must be made to gina@lofa.com

N.B. One candidate application per member, per year only.

LOFA Welcomes Steve Millington Of Tom Chambers As Chairman And Alwyn Williams Of Zest Outdoor Living As Vice Chairman

LOFA, the Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association, has announced two new appointments to its board of directors. Steve Millington has been voted in as the new Chairman, and Alwyn Williams as the new Vice Chair.

The new leadership team is focused on the future of LOFA and recognises the need for change and innovation. Steve and Alwyn are committed to enhancing the organisation's benefits to its members and working towards future-proofing the association.

Steve Millington, Sales Director at Tom Chambers, brings a wealth of experience to his new role, having been involved in a range of industry projects and steering groups over the course of his career. With a comprehensive understanding of all types of retailers related to the sector, including e-commerce, Steve is ideally placed to help LOFA adapt to the changing needs of its members.

Steve's journey in the garden industry began at Ward Pots in 1984, where he worked for six years before moving to Sankey Pots. There, he quickly transitioned into National Accounts and Sales Management before joining Westland in 2002 as the Northern Sales Manager. After six years with Westland, Steve moved to CPL (Coal Products Ltd), where he developed their Garden & DIY sales in a £5m division from a standing start. In 2012, he was approached by Bosmere Products and offered the role of Sales Director. During his time at Bosmere, he served on the GIMA council and became president in 2014. In 2018, Steve joined Tom Chambers and became Sales Director in 2020. He has been a part of the LOFA council for the past four years and became Vice President alongside Pravin Patel in 2023.

Meanwhile, Alwyn Williams, the Head of Business Support at Zest, a leading outdoor garden furniture and timber products specialist, has been appointed as the Vice-Chair of LOFA. He has three decades of experience in the garden industry and has worked at Zest and its parent company, P&A Group, for thirty years. He started his career in production and then moved on to the commercial side of the business in 2002, where he oversaw all aspects of new product development, procurement, sales, and distribution. Later, in 2011, as the Head of Sales and Business Development, he played a vital role in transitioning Zest from using sales agents to developing a full-time national salesforce team. Alwyn's experience has helped Zest grow into a multi-million-pound company, and he has been a key part of the brand development team, which repositioned Zest as the go-to brand for outdoor leisure in 2022.

Steve and Alwyn both have vast knowledge of the outdoor leisure industry and are eager to get started in their new roles alongside their fellow members of the LOFA council, including Hannah Brown, Luke Hopkins, Andrew Hutchison, Julian Windsor, Chris Newman, Stephen Davies, Tim Pennell, and Ben Forte. The new appointments signal a positive and exciting change for LOFA, together, they will work towards the common goal of driving innovation, improving member benefits, and securing LOFA's position as a leading authority in the outdoor leisure industry.

Steve Millington   Alwyn Williams

RED SEA ATTACKS- LOFA MEMBERS INCUR SHIPPING DELAYS AND RISING COSTS

Amidst a turbulent three years, our hopes for a calmer 2024 have been dashed. The industry now faces yet another hurdle, courtesy of Yemen Houthis. Since November, they have been targeting vessels in the Red Sea as a show of support for Hamas. As a result, major shipping companies used by LOFA members have been forced to detour around Africa's Cape of Good Hope instead of using the Suez Canal, incurring longer journeys and higher costs.

Avoiding the Suez Canal, which handles approximately 12% of global trade, will add 10-14 days and 3500 nautical miles to shipping routes. Although the situation in the Red Sea is unpredictable and adjustments may be made if security improves, shipping companies are once again increasing costs, to the detriment of supply chains. While the cost increase may not reach COVID levels, it is feared that this disruption could also drive-up oil prices, leading to higher fuel prices and inflation.

LOFA members will do their best to alleviate this situation, but they cannot sustain another massive hike in container costs. They may have no choice but to pass on these significant increases down the supply chain. Some companies are already facing resistance from customers regarding these surcharges, but it is important to understand that suppliers have limited control over pricing in rare Force Majeure events such as these.

To address the threat in the Red Sea, the US has launched an international naval operation, joined by nations like the UK, Canada, France, Bahrain, Norway, and Spain. However, some shipping companies remain wary of resuming operations immediately, concerned about container shortages and port congestion that could result from extended vessel rotations.

Regardless of the results of military intervention and a resumed Suez route, it seems likely that higher costs and delays will continue in the run up to and possibly well beyond Chinese New Year. The situation will not only impact the outdoor leisure industry but will affect all supply chains routing through the Suez Canal.

LOFA appoints new Vice Chairman and Council Member

LOFA appoints new Vice Chairman and Council Member

Bringing their expertise to help and support members during this new chapter

LOFA is pleased to announce the addition of two experienced professionals - Steve Millington and Chris Newman - as Vice Chairman and Council Member, respectively. Steve (Sales Director at Tom Chambers)  has been in the industry for thirty years; he will be instrumental in steering a successful future course for LOFA alongside existing Chairman Pravin Patel. Similarly, 4 Seasons Outdoor UK Ltd Managing Director Chris Newman,  looks forward with enthusiasm to contributing his expertise towards helping and supporting members during this new chapter at LOFA!

Steve Millington   Chris Newman

COP27 Outcomes and Reflections

COP27 was hailed as “a make-or-break moment” and an opportunity to move from ambitious targets to policy implementation. We have seen global leaders unite, but now it is time for them to deliver transformational change. Our partners at Planet Mark have shared some key takeaways and reflections from COP27.

Prior to the conclusion of negotiations, COP27 was hailed as “a make-or-break moment” and an opportunity to move from ambitious targets to policy implementation. Several key outcomes have highlighted some progress toward climate action. However, even successes that seemed difficult to imagine only a few years ago still fall short of where we need to be to guarantee a 1.5°C pathway. 

Here are Planet Mark’s key takeaways and reflections.

Loss and Damage

COP27 reached a historic agreement on a fund to provide developing countries with financial assistance for losses and damage caused by the climate crisis. Despite having the smallest carbon footprint, countries such as Pakistan, Kenya, and Barbados have experienced the most extreme impacts of climate change leaving millions displaced. After three decades, the issue finally made it into the COP27 agenda. However, there is no agreement in place as to how finance should be provided and where it should come from. Developed countries have yet to live up to their 2009 commitment to jointly mobilize $100 billion annually in climate finance. 

1.5C barely “alive”

Despite the progress on loss and damage, there has been a lack of progress during the summit on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions faster. The 2015 Paris Agreement aims to keep temperature rises “well below 2C” above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to keep it to 1.5C. Failure to keep 1.5C “alive” would be a death sentence for many small island states and African nations. So, COP26 in Glasgow saw countries agree to return each year to “revisit and strengthen” their 2030 climate plans by the end of 2022. But in the past year, only a small proportion have done so. The emissions-reduction plans submitted ahead of COP27 would cut less than 1% off projected global emissions in 2030. 

There was a glimpse of hope as several countries pushed for the final agreement to include a reference of the need to peak emissions in 2025 – the deadline for keeping 1.5C alive, but this was later scrapped from the final text. 

Fossil Fuels

Despite more than 80 countries supporting a proposal to phase down the use of fossil fuels, once again, the agreement finalised included the same as that in Glasgow. Fossil fuels are only mentioned once in the text – in the context of the “phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”. Given the gravity of the climate crisis, this is still very ambiguous and weak language. 

Other notable firsts

The final agreement acknowledges the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) key finding of “tipping points” – a warning of the consequences of human-induced climate change that lead to changes that are not gradual and linear but could lead to rapidly escalating and often irreversible effects. 

Also included was a reference to “the right to a clean healthy and sustainable environment”, highlighting the clear link between global warming and health. 

Planet Mark Reflections

Net zero carbon emissions

Net zero certainly hasn’t moved forward enough at an international level at COP27, but the industry continues to show leadership with the release of the ISO Net Zero Guidelines, which provides our first end-to-end framework for what good net zero governance looks like from targets to plans, to claiming success. The UK’s net zero plan framework was also released by the Transition Plan Taskforce, which all listed companies must now submit to the FCA by the end of 2023, something that will cascade through supply chains in a really significant way. 

Andrew Griffiths, Director of Community and Partnerships at Planet Mark

Decarbonization

COP saw the announcement of the Breakthrough Agenda. An international collaboration covering 25 new priority action areas – including clarifying plans for ending the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles. Elsewhere, a new report from the United Nations emphasised the importance of rapid and large-scale action to address emissions from the most energy-intensive countries. Whilst it is important to acknowledge these agreements – it is vital we shift from dialogue to action. Net zero is the goal, and the key to net zero is decarbonising not only at the company level but ensuring country-level actions are done in a timely manner. The government must prep grid, heating, and rail decarbonisation to allow businesses to reduce emissions, such as electricity, gas, and train travel. That is the big sticking point for the UK. 

Dr Rima Trofimovaite, Head of Certification at Planet Mark

Energy

Today, only 29% of global electricity generation comes from renewables, but given electricity generation represents 23% of worldwide emissions, we must move further and faster. Under the recently launched Sharm-el-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, the initiatives for energy must meet the needs of the 733 million people still living without access to electricity. 1.5C can only be achievable with the rapid transformation of the global electricity system from coal to renewable energy. And this must be achieved with India, one of the world’s top emitters, announcing that coal will play an important role its country until at least 2040. 

COP27 and its legacy must be a time to prioritise implementation. It is a time for concerted effort across sectors, alongside international dialogue on energy markets. As businesses, we must pick up where governments have failed to act.  

Scott Armstrong, Chief Operating Officer at Planet Mark

Finance

Unlocking climate capital for developing nations represented a pivotal agenda point for COP27. From deploying mitigation and adaptation measures to ensuring the green transition is fair for developing countries – good policy and good finance must work together. At COP, we were glad to see finance sector alliances on net zero, (collectively representing more than $32T of assets) announce new members. Elsewhere, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry launched a new Energy Transition Accelerator (ETA) in a bid to finance the decommissioning of coal and the acceleration of clean energy. 

However, it is important to recognise the task ahead. In 2020, around 83 billion dollars was globally collated for climate finance. By 2023, this is expected to cross the 100-billion-dollar mark. Even if this momentum is maintained and we reach the pledge of 1 trillion dollars a year by 2030, for climate change to remain under 1.5 degrees, an estimated 1.6-3.8 trillion must be raised in climate finance, meaning current pledges are insufficient. It is crucial that there is a scaling up of finance from all sources, both private and public. 

Lilly Miller, Chief Financial Officer at Planet Mark

Governance and greenwashing

COP27 started under the shadow of Coca-Cola’s sponsorship and Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg announcing she would skip the talks in Egypt, criticising the global summit as a forum for “greenwashing”. In light of this, we were encouraged to see the completion of a new set of guidelines published at COP, establishing standards for the pathway to net zero, by the International Standards Organisation. Alongside this, the UN Net Zero Group released a report outlining ten practical recommendations to bring integrity, transparency, and accountability to net zero by establishing clear standards and criteria.  
As Antonio Guterres rightly said, “We must have zero tolerance for net-zero greenwashing”. We hope these recommendations, developed with participants from civil society, industry, government, and academia will keep organisations in line and close any loopholes. 

Dr Zoe Lee, Senior Strategy and Member Communications Manager

Regeneration

My fundamental hope for COP27 is that it would help create a greater appreciation of our interdependence with the natural world, allowing for decisions to be made that keep 1.5C alive. 

This year’s summit was dubbed the ‘implementation COP’ and whilst a few of the conversations have been constructive, many have not met the need to work collectively to address the urgency of the climate crisis. The work to accelerate radical reductions in carbon emissions has not achieved the desired outcome. Adaptation remains stalled by procedural affairs. The language was also weaker this time about the need for nations to update their Paris Agreement plans within a year. 

That’s not to say there has been no progress made at this year’s summit. Brazil’s incoming president has vowed to end deforestation in the Amazon by 2030. Young people have had a more powerful voice than ever, and an unprecedented loss and damage mechanism to compensate developing nations particularly affected by climate change has been announced. 

While progress on climate action lacks the urgency the world needs, keeping a sense of hope and optimism is essential in fixing the challenges we face. So, while the emotions of frustration, disappointment, and anger must be felt and lived, let’s not slip into doom-ism. Far better to use our emotions to find the hope that we can and will keep warming to a limit of 1.5C and ultimately ease it down. 

Given the shortfalls in policies, agreements, and tangible actions made, it is essential that we, as businesses, harness what momentum has been generated and bring the very best of people, technology, and nature to drive climate finance, climate justice, climate action and halt the destruction of our ecosystems.  

To give you a sense of what the Planet Mark community is doing to deliver action, we are proud to report we have certified the 500th company so far this year. As every company must cut carbon emissions to hold the Planet Mark, I think this gives a strong sense of optimism for the commitment of business and institutions. 

The world is demanding climate leadership. At Planet Mark, we are seeing that businesses can provide the leadership we need, and politicians will follow. We help mobilise businesses to create their own credible net zero targets and action plans as part of the UN-backed Race to Zero. If you’d like to join this race and demonstrate your commitment to net zero, get in touch to find out how we can help your journey.  

To learn more, watch Planet Mark’s COP27 Business Debrief webinar recording here.

Terminology 

Greenwashing: The Cambridge Dictionary describes greenwashing as actions by companies to “make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.”

Net Zero:  The balance between the total GHG emissions released into the atmosphere and the total amount of GHG emissions removed from the atmosphere annually. Only once net zero is achieved can the next steps towards regeneration be taken by reducing global warming and removing more GHG emissions from the atmosphere than are being released. 

International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) Net Zero Guidelines: Set out a common path for the definition of net zero, actionable guidance on getting there as soon as possible and consistent reporting on emissions. 

Transition Plan Taskforce Disclosure Framework: Sets out a “gold standard” for companies for best practice climate transition plans. It provides a common and robust process by which organisations can be compared with one another. 

FCA: The Financial Conduct Authority regulates the financial services industry in the UK. The FCA introduced rules for listed companies and large regulated asset owners and asset managers to disclose transition plans as part of their Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)-aligned disclosures. 

Breakthrough Agenda: The Breakthrough Agenda launched at the World Leaders Summit commits countries to work together to make clean technologies and sustainable solutions the most affordable, accessible and attractive option in each emitting sector globally before 2030. 

Energy Transition Accelerator: The Energy Transition Accelerator is a public-private initiative to fund renewable energy projects through carbon offsets, with the purpose of accelerating the clean energy transition in developing countries. 

 

Race to Zero: The UN-backed global campaign rallying non-state actors to take rigorous and immediate action to halve global emissions by 2030 and deliver a zero-carbon world in time. This is guided by a set of procedural criteria known as the Five Ps: Pledge, Plan, Proceed, Publish, and persuade aimed at galvanising participants on their net zero journeys. 

 

Steve Potter celebrates his 50th Birthday by donating 50 Christmas Trees (one for each of his Birthdays!) to The One Love Project Soup Kitchen & Foodbank

Steve Potter, Managing Director of Katie Blake Furniture Glencrest Seatex celebrated his 50th Birthday recently and marked the occasion by donating 50 Luxury Christmas Trees to The One Love Project Soup Kitchen & Foodbank.

20 of these Christmas Trees can be purchased for a minimum donation of £25 each, to help raise vital funds for The One Love Project.

 

The trees will be available this coming Monday 28th November between 10am - 6pm from the One Love Project, Hollybrook Site, Southend - SS2 6LR

 

The remainder of the Christmas Tree have been set aside to decorate The One Love Foodbank & Soup Kitchen and will also be gifted to families in need this Christmas.