asr closes doors

According to sources, Nielsen has canceled all upcoming ASR trade shows and Action Sports Retailer has ceased operations.

Following nearly 30 years of action sports trade shows in San Diego, the news of the show’s cessation was apparently leaked following an announcement by San Juan Capistrano-based Nielsen Expositions, which puts on ASR, to the San Diego Convention Center on Tuesday. “Unfortunately due to the difficult economic environment and the consolidation in the action sports industry, Nielsen Expositions have decided to suspend the production of both ASR events in San Diego indefinitely,” wrote Lori Jenks, vice president of operations for Nielsen Expositions, as reported by the San Diego Union Tribune.

Andy Tompkins, VP of Nielsen Sports Group, released a statement Wednesday discussing the factors contributing to Nielsen’s decision to suspend the trade show, which include a challenging period for the market, competition among key brands and consolidation among retail shops. “This dynamic, combined with tight credit markets, has been hard on the new, smaller or up-and-coming brands as well as many independent surf, skate and boutique retailers,” states Tompkins in the release. “We expect this consolidated and competitive situation to continue to characterize the action sports industry in California for some time to come. Given these fundamental changes, it has proven to be increasingly difficult for the ASR shows in San Diego to serve the new needs of the action sports marketplace. Therefore, we are indefinitely suspending these events.”

According to the Convention Center Corp., ASR’s two 2010 drew roughly 22,000 attendees, and generated approximately $20 million in revenue. In related news, Nielsen Company has purchased two photo industry magazines and a related trade show, which will be managed under the Nielsen Photo Group out of Los Angeles, California.

Black Box’s Crossroads, which had partnered with ASR, announced that it will return to its roots and continue its skate trade show independently. Crossroads Founder Jamie Thomas released a letter to its customers on November 3 stating: “We started Crossroads without ASR and with your support we will continue to provide a grass roots trade show for the skateboard community. We intend to spend the next few weeks diligently determining the best possible plan for our January/February show including dates, location, and potential partnerships. We will communicate our plans to you ASAP.”

Sacred Craft consumer surfboard show, which was held in conjunction with ASR this summer, announced its 2011 lineup as well in a release: “Sacred Craft announces 2011 dates for spring and fall events. Sacred Craft will stage at the Rittenhouse in Santa Cruz, CA March 19th and 20th and at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar, CA on October 8th and 9th. Both locations were selected for their rich shaping heritages, vibrant surfing consumer bases, world-class facilities and direct access to the ocean.”

No mention of ASR is included in the release.

The timing of the 29 year-old ASR trade show had been called into question for years now, but while its demise came as a shock to many, other see opportunity to support the retailers and brand attendees.”The cancellation of ASR is certainly bittersweet for me,” said BRA Co-Chair and Co-Owner of Surfside Sports, Duke Edukas in a BRA press release. “On one hand, an iconic tradeshow that has helped retailers like myself build their shop over the years is gone, and on the other hand, our industry has the opportunity to design an event format that meets the needs of our modern day business models.”

BRA says it is working closely with its retail members to ensure the West Coast trade show calendar is rebuilt to better serve their needs. “As we move forward as an industry and embrace the changes that accompany the shift in the West Coast tradeshow landscape, I can’t help but look back on the close relationship between BRA and ASR,” said Mike Duncan, BRA President. “Without the support of ASR over the years, the association wouldn’t be where it is today. We are forever indebted to our friends at ASR for their long-term support of the specialty retail community, and the founding of BRA as a viable industry association, in particular.”

SIMA President and Vans VP of Marketing Doug Palladini also sees a cause for hope in the news of ASR’s demise: “”The fact that the surf industry has outgrown the West Coast trade show model of the past two decades is actually a very positive step forward,” says Palladini in a SIMA release. “As our industry matures, our members are taking more control of their own businesses, addressing retail partnerships directly, and building business relationships across their entire organizations all year long. We at SIMA are aligned that coming together annually as an industry, on the West Coast, including brands and retailers of all shapes and sizes, remains an important piece of our identity,” Palladini says. “And we look forward to working closely with our partners in the coming months to build a new model of what these events can and should be. We have a plethora of good ideas we have been considering for some time now that can be put into action.”

Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with ASR officials and a look at the impacts of this news on the trade show world and action sports as a whole.