EUROPEAN FASHION LABEL GETS UK DISTRIBUTOR


31st August, 2018.

The lifestyle brand is said to be “fresh but affordable”

Zebra Products is the new UK distributor of Covalliero, it’s been announced today.

The equestrian fashion and lifestyle label from German supplier Albert Kerbl is said to deliver a fresh new approach for consumers seeking style and good value.

Simon Middleton, of Zebra Products, added that it was also “very affordable… The Covalliero range is an ideal addition to the brands we offer. It has already met with a lot of very positive feedback from riders as well as stores.”


NEW RECRUIT FOR FEED COMPANY


31st August, 2018.

Norfolk based firm takes on a new equine nutritionist.

Isobel Bannister MSc BVMed Sci has joined Thunderbrook Equestrian as an equine nutritionist.

Her new role follows a year lecturing in animal science at Hartpury College.

Isobel graduated in veterinary medical science from Nottingham Vet School and recently completed a Masters degree in applied equine science from the Royal Agricultural University.

Her thesis researched the impact of a fibre diet on growth and gut health in Thoroughbred foals compared with a concentrate diet.

Isobel has a yellow Labrador called Penny who goes to work with her at Thunderbrook Equestrian’s Norfolk base.


TICKET PRICE MOANS “BEYOND THE USUAL”


28th August, 2018.

Show trader and ETN diarist Guy Roper reports from last weekend’s Land Rover Blair Castle Horse Trials (23 – 26 August).

One thing about Scotland is that people aren’t bothered by the weather. In a year when business was hit by endless rain, then blistering heat, such stoicism was always going to be Blair’s favour.

As it happened, it was mostly perfect trading weather; a mixture of showers, warm but cloudy intervals and bright sunshine. Numbers seemed a bit down on the Thursday, but things were going nicely through Friday and looking promising on Saturday… until a fatal crash closed the A9 south of the event at lunchtime and no-one could get in. Sympathy to those involved.

Blair has a lot going for it. What I like about it, among many things, is the integration of the trade stands with the event. Instead of the ‘trade village’ layout, stands are positioned around the arenas, each of which has its own character and where there’s always something going on. Thus tidal surges of punters through the stands are evened out during the day and footfall is increased.

This event also celebrates more aspects of the horse world than most.

Bangers to burgundy

Instead of the usual traders’ breakfast sausage-fest, Blair put on a very pleasant drinks reception on the Thursday evening centred around the British Equestrian Trade Association’s (BETA) best stand awards - the first time these had been done here.

Event director Alec Lochore gave us a warm welcome, and acknowledged how important the shopping offer is to attracting the crowds. He was followed by Alison Sherwood Bruce, chairman of BETA’s public relations committee, who vocalised something I’ve felt for a while. The quality of stands (what you might call the stand-ard?) has seen steady improvement in the last few years in presentation and appeal. Sure, there are still a few ‘market trader’ approaches around, but among the regular chums the retail experience is now very good with a much sharper focus on the customer.

And that’s why, Alison revealed, the mystery shoppers judging the best stand awards had focussed on staff engagement with punters as well as all the other factors that ply the precious pound from the passing pocket.

She’s right. The traditional divide between lurkers and pitchers is more graded now: we traders can’t afford to miss the ‘touch point’ - that moment of contact that could lead to a sale. Helpful but not pushy and good knowledge of their products seemed to be what the judges were looking for – and it led to some new faces among the winners.

Blaired vision

Alison had another interesting bit of news. BETA is producing some guidelines for show organisers and they want our views. We all appreciate hot showers (Blair was pretty good there), reliable WiFi, some on-site catering during set-up etc. I’ll definitely be chipping in my twopenn’orth. In fact, I’ll probably be starting with admission prices.

Blair’s a good show, but it’s middle-tier and the number of punters that had a moan about the £27 ticket price was beyond the usual. I can’t blame them. Locals told me the event changed after the European championships were held there. The overall trading offer is much better now, but the premium price to get in leaves punters keener than ever to find bargain and very conscious of the pennies.

How many people are put off by the admission charge? How many come just for the day when they might come for three if it was cheaper? Sure, the stalwarts will always come - it’s the go-to event north of the border. And what about the age range? There were plenty of over 40s and a fair few families, but aside from competitors are the next generation going to develop the show habit? Not at the present ticket prices.....

A show worth doing

As to the show, Saturday was a mixture of overcast and stunning sunshine. It was pretty good despite the road closure. Sunday was disappointing, with the grey morning showers turning to a full-on downpour at lunchtime. By about 2pm, even the hardy Highlanders were remembering they had to be somewhere else in the afternoon. By 3pm, even the committed were being washed towards the exits and trade just died, unless you had a nifty line in brollies and dog coats.

Suddenly, the long road south occurred to people and stock just seemed to find its way back into vehicles. Overall, although most chums were down a bit on last year, trade was pretty solid.

Blair didn’t save the day in a truly awful year - I don’t think anything could - but it held its reputation as a show worth doing. Next on the horizon after the night drive home? I’m off to write my wish-list to BETA…

Cheers,

Guy


WORMER WITHDRAWAL: BEST PRACTICE UPDATE


28th August, 2018.

News that a wormer is to be withdrawn from sale in October prompted concerns for horse health. But now a specials manufacturer has stepped in…

Earlier this summer, horse health experts raised concerns over the implications of tapeworm treatment options following the news that Equitape is to be withdrawn from sale in October 2018, writes Claire Shand of Westgate Labs.

In a turn of fortune for equine health, a specials manufacturer dedicated to the veterinary industry has stepped up to fill this gap. A new praziquantel-only equine product is now available to vets.

Consultant vet to Westgate Labs, Carolyn Cummins MVB PhD MRCVS comments:

“Retaining a species-targeted treatment option is a fantastic outcome for sustainable worming practice and will go a long way in helping us to tackle the major welfare threat of wormer resistance.

“Evidence based control combining regular testing and targeted treatment is the best chance we have of protecting our horses from endemic disease caused by parasite infection both now and in the future.”

Unlike other available wormers, the product has not gone through the licencing channels to allow it to be sold in tack shops, feed merchants and other retail outlets via Suitably Qualified Persons (SQPs) and veterinary pharmacists. Instead, its classification as an unauthorised extemporaneous preparation limits it to sale by vets only, used exceptionally under the cascade system.

While the manufacturer is inspected and approved by the VMD to provide assurance that the product is made to a specific quality, the product itself has not been assessed. This is what has enabled the drug to be brought to market so quickly.

For consumers, the prescription limitations may make this wormer less convenient to purchase.

For SQPs, it may present a moral dilemma over recommending a wormer that they can’t make a sale on.

Yet if we return to what is right for the horse, these compromises should be indefinitely outweighed by our ability to successfully manage parasite control with the limited numbers of drugs available. For if we have to stop keeping horses, we’re all very much worse off.

• Westgate Labs specialises in managing parasite control in animals.


£500 WORTH OF WORKSHOP TOOLS TO BE WON


28th August, 2018.

Entries open for saddlery trainees’ scholarship.

Abbey England has launched its 2019 Saddlery Scholarship.

The winner of the annual award will receive £500 worth of workshop tools from the saddlery supplies specialist.

“We’re delighted to be supporting trainee saddle-makers who are the future of the industry,” said Richard Brown of Abbey England.

Since being awarded the first scholarship earlier this year, Rachel Lok has completed the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) Flocking Assessment and started the SMS Qualified Saddle Fitters Course.

“As well as the prestige of winning the award, and using the £500 for tools and equipment, it has also helped lift my profile in the industry,” she said.

The Abbey England Saddlery Scholarship is open to anyone in their first or second year of saddlery training; and those with saddlery and/or leather trade experience who are pursuing further training.

To enter, visit www.abbeyengland.com/downloads and download the Abbey England Scholarship Application.

Entries close on 30 November, 2018.


LEG-UP FOR CONSUMERS’ HORSE FEEDING KNOWLEDGE


28th August, 2018.

Retailers to benefit from campaign to be launched at Your Horse Live.

A new annual initiative – BETA Feed Awareness Week – has been created by the British Equestrian Trade Association to help dispel feeding myths and improve consumer knowledge of equine nutrition.

It will run from 10 to 18 November, with an official launch at Your Horse Live. BETA is sponsor of the main arena at the shopping-and-demos show at Stoneleigh Park (9 – 11 November).

The initiative will follow a similar format to BETA Safety Week, held earlier this year, with a high-profile presence online and in-store. With BETA member retailers and manufacturers involved, the aim is to drive home important feed-related messages and encourage customer engagement.

Retailers signed up to the scheme will be listed on a dedicated page on the BETA website and can order branded promotional merchandise to flag up their membership.

Participating retailers can also host BETA Feed Awareness Week competitions in their stores and on social media platforms.

In addition, BETA will be running an in-store display competition for retailers taking part in the campaign.

“BETA Feed Awareness Week offers retailers a tremendous opportunity to work with the trade association and wider feed industry to promote the importance of sound nutritional advice,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams.

“By focusing on good feed practice, separating fact from fiction and helping consumers to make more informed choices when it comes to buying their feed and supplements, the campaign will play a powerful role in raising awareness of equine nutritional welfare.”


GOOD LUCK AT WEG, SAY BRITISH TEAM SUPPLIERS


20th August, 2018.

Fans can follow world championships action with daily highlights on TV.

As the British Equestrian Team prepares for the World Equestrian Games (WEG), the trade will be rooting for British success to inspire the next generation of riders and customers.

The multi-discipline championships takes place in Tryon, USA, next month (11 – 23 September).

“We’re very proud to support our British riders and wish them all the very best,” said Chris Tar of HorseHage, the official supplier of bagged forage to the British equestrian teams since 1984.

Other Equestrian Team GBR official partners are Dodson & Horrell, Equi-Trek, Falpro England, Musto, NAF and Point Two.

[cross head] Highlights on TV

Meanwhile, for the first time, Horse & Country TV viewers can watch a daily highlights show of the previous day’s action from WEG.

Eleven one-hour programmes will be broadcast during the event with shows daily at 1pm followed by repeat transmissions at 5pm, 8pm and 9am the following morning.

After WEG, Horse & Country TV will show six one-hour programmes featuring the Olympic disciplines (three for dressage, two for showjumping, one for eventing); plus a further five half-hour shows, one for each of para-dressage, reining, vaulting, endurance and driving).

Horse & Country is now available on Virgin Media as well as Sky.


EQUESTRIAN RETAILERS’ FAVOURITE COFFEE SHOP HAS NEW SPONSOR


20th August, 2018.

The BETA International Coffee Shop, where colleagues catch up every January, is to be supported by a premium complete dog food brand for the first time in 2019.

TopSpec Equine is to sponsor the BETA International Coffee Shop under its VetSpec brand.

VetSpec is a range of hypoallergenic, cereal grain-free, premium dog foods.

“As TopSpec Equine experienced a number of incredibly successful years as sponsor of this very same feature, we understand perfectly how effective supporting BETA International in this way can be,” said company managing director Philip Tyler.

“We are really excited about VetSpec's new range and very much looking forward to the opportunity to introduce it to the show's visitors. Sponsoring the Coffee Shop plays a key role in our marketing strategy and will be a powerful tool in helping to secure maximum traction for this new-to-the-market brand.”

BETA International organiser Claire Thomas added: “We are thrilled to have Philip and the TopSpec and VetSpec teams on board. The company has been a loyal supporter of the trade fair for many years and both I and the rest of the organising team are really looking forward to joining forces once again.”

The VetSpec Coffee Shop sits at the heart of the show, at the centre of the halls. It is a popular meeting point for exhibitors and visitors taking a well-deserved rest or enjoying a catch-up with friends, colleagues and clients.

VetSpec joins the trade fair’s fellow supporters, official media partner Equestrian Trade News (ETN), exhibitor bag sponsor Henson Franklyn, visitor bags sponsor Hy, Champagne Bar sponsor NAF, New Product Gallery sponsor Shires Equestrian, official model horse supplier Stubbs England, official clothing supplier Toggi and main sponsor Neue Schule.

The 40th anniversary edition of BETA International takes place at the NEC. Birmingham, on 20 – 22 January, 2019. It’s the world's leading trade fair for equestrian, country clothing, outdoor and pet products.

For further information about exhibiting, contact James Palmer, telephone +44 (0)1937 582111 or email jamesp@beta-int.com

To get involved with ETN’s official BETA International previews, contact Beth Crow on telephone +44 (0)1937 582111 or email bethc@beta-int.com


£185m PAID FOR SUPPLEMENTS COMPANY


20th August, 2018.

Popular probiotics brand is part of acquisition announced last week.

Probiotics International, best known for its Protexin brand of probiotic supplements, has been acquired by Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM).

The £185 million deal is the latest in a series of investments for ADM, a speciality ingredients provider to the human and animal nutrition sectors.

ADM Protexin Limited, as the company will now be known, will offer natural products and probiotic supplements to the veterinary, agricultural and equine healthcare markets.


SHORTLISTED PRODUCTS ANNOUNCED BY SHOW ORGANISERS


20th August, 2018.

Find out which companies are in line for awards at next month’s Spoga trade fair in Germany.

Twenty-one products from 14 companies have been shortlisted for 2018 spoga horse awards.

They will all be on show at the trade fair in Cologne, Germany on 2 – 4 September.

Winners in three categories - innovations, sales concepts and social responsibility – have been selected by a judging panel. Voting by visitors will also count towards the final results.

Nominations in the innovations category (in alphabetical order) are:
- Charles Owen & Airowear / AyrPS (airShell vest)
- Freejump System / Spur’One – Perfect Fitting (spurs)
- Haas Manufaktur / Helfi (equestrian aid)
- Horseware Products Ltd / Amigo Three-In-One Evolution Vamoose (turn-out and sweat rug)
- Horseware Products Ltd / Amigo Hero ACY (paddock blanket)
- Klaus Ueberholz GmbH & Co KG / NeXaver (poll-friendly headcollar)
- Pariani Selle 1903 / ergonomic bridle
- Shoof New Zealand / Tubbease (hoof sock)
- UFO/ GPA / 4S Concept (riding hat)
- Voss Faible GmbH / StripHair Gentle Groomer (multifunctional grooming tool)

Nominations in the sales concepts category are:
- Cavalliera International / buyer classification to increase turnover
- HKM Sports Equipment GmbH / Cavalli Puri (home shopping concept)
- HKM Sports Equipment GmbH / TV advertisement
- MM Cosmetic GmbH / Zedan care concept for eczema sufferers (natural cosmetic)

Nominations in the corporate social responsibility category are:
- Cavalliera International / entire product line
- HKM Sports Equipment GmbH / switching the entire vehicle fleet of the sales reps over to LPG (reduced energy consumption)
- Horseware / AA Platinum silk blouse
- Horseware / AA platinum pullover with perforated sleeves
- Kingsland / Kingsland Earth (clothes made of recycling materials)
- MM Cosmetic GmbH / Zedan goes natural
- Schockemöhle Sports / Felicita (functional, breathable summer jacket)


TOWERING FIGURE IN EQUESTRIAN TRADE DIES AGED 71


14th August, 2018.

British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) founding member, past chairman, hon. treasurer – and respected businessman – has passed away.

Martin Loveday, whose family business Thomas H Loveday created the Loveson brand, died last Thursday (9 August). He was 71 and had been ill for some time.

In 2010, Martin was presented with the BETA Lifetime Achievement award for his outstanding and significant contribution to the equestrian industry.

Martin joined his family’s footwear business in 1975, at the age of 29, having qualified as a chartered accountant.

Northamptonshire based Thomas H Loveday was originally a harness manufacturer, founded in 1650 and specialising in making collars from local reeds. But as demand for working horses fell away, it switched to steel toe-capped and hobnail boots. It was Martin’s grandfather who thought up Loveson footwear.

By the 1960s, the Loveday family business had gone into equestrian footwear. Growth continued and by the 1980s, its team of sponsored riders included eventer Madeleine Gurdon, now Lady Lloyd-Webber. Mucker and Chester boots were popular Loveson branded products.

When the equestrian trade began to widen its manufacturing base to India and the Far East, Martin displayed a global approach which saw Loveson move beyond footwear and expand into equestrian clothing.

Lovedays also distributed Matlock & Brown clothing. And when that firm went into liquidation in 1997, Martin took on its 16 strong workforce in Loveday’s new jodhpur factory.

Shaping the modern trade

Martin was among a group of equestrian businesspeople to attend a meeting in 1977 to discuss setting up the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA). His company was one of the first to join and given the membership number 13.

“Without Martin, BETA would not have progressed to what it is today,” said the trade association’s executive director Claire Williams. “Furthermore he truly helped to shape the modern face of the equestrian trade.”

Martin was a member of the BETA Council for more than 25 years, chairman for two years and honorary treasurer spanning three decades. He was highly respected in the trade for his wise, considered manner and ability to deliver well-balanced opinion and good advice.

Martin served on the BETA Trade Fair Committee (which works with the BETA International organising team) and was an active supporter of the show’s expansion into the international fixture it is today.

In 1986, he was a speaker on BETA’s first business courses for retailers.

BETA’s National Riding Week, launched in 1997 and which aimed to boost rider numbers by 10%, was another project to which Martin gave his considerable energies. “If they’re not riding, we can’t sell to them,” he declared as BETA chairman - and promptly led the way by learning to ride.

Also in that year, Martin was a member of the BETA/EMC working party that oversaw BETA’s acquisition of Equestrian Management Consultants (EMC), organiser of BETA International and publisher of ETN.

The 1990s saw Martin become active on the Industry and Parliament Trust, encouraging a better understanding by MPs of the small business environment and the equestrian trade.

Loveson was acquired by Tagg Equestrian in 2010.

Martin attended his final BETA International last year when he congratulated the new owner of Loveson, Horseware’s Tom MacGuinness. “I’m so pleased it’s found a good home,” said Martin.

Martin spent his last days in Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice. A family funeral takes place the week after next; family flowers only with a collection for the hospice.

Martin leaves his wife Sally, daughter Sarah, sons Philip and David and grandchildren.


NEW MANAGER APPOINTED AT FEED FIRM


13th August, 2018.

A fresh face arrives as a well-known one prepares to enjoy retirement.

Olivia Colton has been appointed quality and business development manager at Fox Feeds, producer of HorseHage and Mollichaff for eastern England.

Olivia takes over from Frances Sheffield who retires at the end of September after 27 years with the Hertfordshire based company.

With an MSc in applied equine science from Writtle College, Olivia has ridden since she was three and owns two horses. She previously worked for supplements company Feedmark.

Frances joined Fox Feeds in 1991 as sales and marketing manager, later becoming sales director and then technical director. Before that, she was with Badminton Horse Feeds since 1983.

Frances says retirement will give her more time to support her daughter Bert Sheffield’s career in international para-dressage. She’ll also be doing more dressage judging.


SHOP FITTINGS SALES SHOW “ENCOURAGING” TREND


10th August, 2018.

Retailers continue to invest in merchandising their stores.

Shop fitting specialists say they’re pleased – and a little surprised - to report a vote of confidence from within the retail display industry.

Almost half (40%) of shop display equipment suppliers reported an increase in sales during the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2017.

And the average increase in sales was “an encouraging 23%”, according to the Shop & Display Equipment Association’s (SDEA) recent survey.

Remarkably this upwards trend looks set to continue, added an SDEA spokesman. When asked to forecast their sales prospects over the following six months, 45% of retail display suppliers expected their sales to rise by an average of 7%.

In addition, 45% of SDEA member companies reported increasing their staff levels during the previous six months with another 30% expecting to employ extra staff in the coming six months.

“The industry remains relatively buoyant despite the volatile UK economy. The remainder of the year is also looking healthy, even though many members expect continued price increases from their suppliers,” said SDEA director Antony Behiels.


LATE NIGHTS PAY OFF AS COMPANY SHORT-LISTED FOR AWARD


10th August, 2018.

Equestrian brand joins other rural businesses in line for recognition.

Equetech is celebrating reaching the regional finals of the Rural Business Awards.

The equestrian fashion brand has been selected to go forward to the final judging for the Best Rural Manufacturing Business (south-east).

"It means so much just to be nominated for this prestigious award, and shocked to have been shortlisted as a finalist,” said Equetech’s managing director Liz Hayman.

“As a rural family run business, it’s nice to get recognition for our hard work, late nights and determination to deliver a trusted brand in the equestrian industry.”

Equetech celebrated its 25th year in business in 2017.

Regional winners of the Rural Business Awards will be announced in October, followed by a grand final in February 2019.

The awards recognise businesses operating across the rural sector from engineering to artisan food producers.


IT’S TOUGH OUT THERE – BUT 9 OUT OF 10 TO FESTIVAL’S NEW ORGANISER


10th August, 2018.

Show trader and ETN diarist Guy Roper reports from the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park (3 – 5 August).

It’s always difficult when an established team hands over to a new one. The context doesn’t matter. Any time a close knit team bows out after 20 or so years, some of the knowledge is lost, some balls will be dropped in the transfer.

Candidly, in run up to this year’s Festival of British Eventing at Gatters, I had pretty low expectations. Talking to other trading chums at the event showed that it wasn’t just me… Attempts to contact the organisers had been met with silence. Ten days or so before the event, I still had no passes, and a finally answered telephone call saying that I could “pick them up at the site office” gave me little reassurance.

I can sort of understand that now: the new organising team knew exactly why that would work. They had the plan, which had everything positioned on it. We didn’t, and we just didn’t know about changes to the layout until we got there. And even then, some chums found things were different from what had been promised.

There was a hint of things being made up on the day during set up. I particularly enjoyed seeing a catering van passing my stand four or five times in various directions before it found its home. Truth to tell, I felt a bit sorry for the owner. A Benny Hill soundtrack would have been perfect…

As with Bramham, you cannot doubt the sincerity of the organisers in recognising how much the trade stand offer brings to the event. Peter Phillips, in his first year as event director, was very clear in his welcome at the BETA trade stand holders’ breakfast. Despite constant interruptions from the arena commentary, he emphasised the core role of the retail offer in the success of the event. It was great to hear in one of the most difficult year’s trading that any of us can remember.

So how was the show?

Actually, the new team did a pretty good job, and the changes to the layout worked very well. There were some really good new stands which expanded the retail offer and the catering was much improved with quality food at a reasonable price. There’s no doubting the hard work that went into the event and Peter Philips and his team deserve a nine out of 10 for effort and commitment.

The weekend was silly hot but even Friday’s Pony Club day saw numbers down. More people turned out on Saturday and Sunday, but the consensus was that there were fewer visitors overall than in previous years.

There seemed to be fewer locals than usual; maybe they were having a cheaper family day out at the Gloucestershire Vintage and Country show down the road at Cirencester? Perhaps it was the weather? The usual ‘wandering about’ phases in the day just didn’t seem to happen, and at the end of each day there was a tide of punters heading straight for the exit rather than having a last meander around the trade stands.

As at all events so far this year, the retail reflex was just not there - and the passing pound stayed in the shade of the passing pocket.

Disappointing trend

So trading was a bit difficult, frankly. Gatters, sadly, continued the disappointing trend of the season. Most chums were well down on previous years, somewhere between 40 and 60%. That’s just unsustainable, and something has got to change.

Retail everywhere is up against it, and the latest interest rate rise is already compounding a poor situation. In a world where House of Fraser is offloading stock at a horse show from a stand that looked a bit like a jumble sale, it’s definitely time for a radical re-think. It’s only by working together, with the stand holders and the organisers having a real dialogue, that the show circuit as we know it will survive.

And it’s not just the future of our businesses that is looking bleak. Unfortunately at breakdown we loaded more stock back into the vehicles than I can remember in a very long while. If I’m not selling, I won’t be buying.

In a sector already impacted by the failure of Countrywide, that leaves manufacturers and wholesalers short as well. I think the business landscape will look very different in a year’s time, and not in a good way. You might think, in the words of the song, Things can only get better. But, at present, the D:Ream [who recorded that particular ditty] looks like turning into a nightmare.

Cheers,

Guy


DEATH ANNOUNCED OF “VISIONARY” RETAILER


1st August, 2018.

“He brought the rest of the world to the UK”


Michael Gidden, one of the most influential equestrian retailers of the 20th century, died last week (24 July). He was 75 and had been receiving treatment for cancer.

Michael came from a family who were originally curriers in Southampton and went on to found the famous London saddlers W & H Gidden which he later ran.

William and Henry Gidden made their first saddle in 1806. The Duke of Wellington was said to have ridden into battle again Napoleon at Waterloo on a Gidden saddle. By the 1970s, W & H Gidden held a Royal Warrant as Saddler to HM The Queen with other members of the Royal family among its regular customers.

The W & H Gidden shop in Bond Street was a magnet for visitors from across the globe, from American tourists to Arab princes - for at least one of whom Michael arranged for a saddle with gold plated stirrups and fittings to be made. He was always the proactive retailer.

Over the years, Giddens had acquired manufacturing labels such as Champion & Wilton (particularly well known for its side saddles), Owen & Co and Whippy; bespoke saddlery was an important part of the W & H Gidden offering. Polo equipment from saddles to knee pads was another specialty.

In 1990, Michael and his then wife Pat purchased Hertfordshire based Coleman Croft Saddlery from Rod Sharpe. While his family moved to Sutton’s Farm near St Albans where the store was based, Michael continued to run the Bond Street store.

Sutton’s Farm also became home to W & H Gidden’s saddlery, luggage and leathergoods manufacturing operation, as well as the headquarters for its burgeoning Stubben and euro-star distributorships.

Michael’s father Ernest Gidden (always known as Mick) was awarded the George Cross for gallantry and devotion to duty after he defused unexploded mines as a Royal Navy volunteer reservist during the Second World War. Michael took his father’s medals along to The Antiques Roadshow in 2003; he appeared on the TV programme to hear an expert value them at £16,000.

Michael originally trained as a lawyer. But it was in the world of equestrian retailing that his energy and innovation came to the fore.

“He brought the rest of the world to the UK,” said Sue Moxon, now the managing director of R & R Country and who worked at W & H Gidden’s Bond Street store in the 1980s. “He was a visionary; the first to bring in the European brands such as Stubben, euro star, Cavallo and of course Ariat boots too. He raised the bar for the whole UK trade.”

W & H Gidden was sold to Rolf Schneider of Schneider boots in July 1999.

In his later years, Michael went on to restore classic cars.

He leaves his partner Barbara and grown up children Christopher, Peter and Georgina.