AMG GROUP MD Stephen Newlands recently referred to its brand VANGO regularly receiving enquiries about spares for decades-old Force Ten tents. Plus, people finding old Vango tents in lofts and wondering what to do them.
He said that over the past ten years, via the SPARES AND REPAIRS SERVICE, neither spares nor repairs were a problem – “If we don’t have it, we’ll make it!” – and that old tents returned had been refurbished for use by outdoor community organisations.
It represented another angle on the evolving landscape of sustainability in the outdoor industries. Those comments prompted a closer look at a company that has long been a pillar of the UK outdoor industry, active in its Associations, contributing time and voluntary commitment to the outdoor community.
Marketing Director Rob Birrell said, “Vango has a long heritage of integrity and innovation in design, materials and manufacturing, linked to CSR and the outdoor community. We have a broad ranging base of outdoor enthusiast consumers for our products from F10 Classics through to AirBeam family tents and caravan awnings.”
Formerly family-owned, an MBO some years ago brought about a significant shift in attitude to the 21stC outdoor industry and the extension of journeys undertaken on a broad front.
Newlands noted, “The transition from the ‘old guard’ to our younger, dynamic new exec team has been fundamental in our business and brand journey over the last few years and is something we are very proud of. Investment in innovation, sustainability, infrastructure and of course, people, is key to our success, and will remain at the forefront for the coming years.”
The twin strands of innovation and the sustainability journey lie at the heart of Vango product design, development and evolution. That includes performance fabrics made from recycled single-use plastic, ethically sourced down plus environmentally friendly poles, fabric proofing and dye use.
Birrell stated, “Sustainability and innovation are what we now consider the DNA of Vango, with each product range development meeting including these fundamentals. In 2022, over 40% of our Vango tent business will come from recycled single use plastic derived kit. Our simple goal is to increase this volume each year, reaching a point where all canvas, be that tent or awning, utilises recycled materials.
“We look at all angles on practical action to reduce environmental impact. For instance, plastic removal, recycled packaging, facility lighting, the reduction in sampling through increased use of rendering software and 3-D printing for product and component design through to product presentation online.”
‘Reduce, Re-use, Recycle’ is more than a slogan. CAMPING RECYCLED is an initiative Vango set up to reduce the amount of outdoor gear ending up in landfill. Tents and awnings are repaired and sold that function as intended but cannot be sold through retail partners, such as samples, demo kit and refurbished products. If beyond practical repair, all serviceable components are removed and used to repair other tents and awnings.
A series of poster-style MISSION STATEMENTS on the Vango website shares the brand’s focus from its promotion of adventure through to its vision, values and practical action. The launch of the award-winning VANGO EARTH COLLECTION of tents, sleeping bags, rucksacks and furniture in 2021, and extended in 2022, marked a significant step forward on the brand’s journey.
Birrell noted, “There is absolutely no doubt protecting the outdoors has to be high on everyone’s agenda, and we’re delighted to be leading the way with our extensive Earth collection. By 2023, we will have turned 16 million plastic bottles into outdoor gear, with over 50% of our tents sold featuring recycled content. Now is the time for action, and we’re perfectly positioned to meet the needs of our customers through the growing demand for healthy outdoor activities.”
The Vango stand at the consumer-facing Camping, Caravan and Motorhome Show at the NEC was dedicated to the Earth collection and proved to be a hit with visitors, keener than ever to enjoy outdoor recreation in nature responsibly.
Through supplier relations with production partners in the Far East and cooperation manuals, Vango is actively working on:
- Developing the sustainable material supply chain.
- Developing wider ranges of fabric and high-performance materials from recycled content.
- Developing the next sustainable materials, beyond single use plastics.
- Trialling alternative dye solutions.
- Focusing on not wasting time or materials – for instance, a little extra environmental cost on completely new LED lighting results in higher quality product and less wastage of valuable material within faulty product.
- Ensuring ethical trading initiatives are in place and strictly adhered to around people.
Birrell added, “In addition to these, we’ve also overhauled our own supply chain purchasing and order planning, making massive impact. By buying in annual quantities, we reduce waste material, permit longer dye batches (thus, less wastage), and reduce transportation by reducing smaller volume deliveries. One of our suppliers reported a 160% increase in efficiency due to this.”