Richard Leedham will start his CEO position at Equip Outdoor Technologies on 5 February 2024 to drive the company’s five-year strategic plan, increasing turnover, furthering the company’s leadership in CSR and growing its share in core markets.

He succeeds Matt Gowar who announced in November 2023 that he would be stepping down after 30 years of developing the business and its brands, Rab and Lowe Alpine.

Leedham is said to be bringing a wealth of experience to the company from over 30 years in the outdoor industry. His career to date has included working within multiple roles at Pentland Brands and serving on its executive team. During his tenure, he also held responsibility for the outdoor division as Berghaus president from 2013-2018.

Equip Outdoor Technologies’ new CEO has also served on the boards of the European Outdoor Group and the Outdoor Industries Association in the UK.

He is the founder and director of non-profit Outdoor Gear for Good, which diverts excess stock from the industry from going to landfill. From 2019 through to the end of 2023, Leedham worked with the women’s outdoor brand ACAI and is said to have delivered substantial growth through product development and new sales channels.

Leedham said he’s proud to take the position at Outdoor Equip Technologies and he has “massive respect” for the work that Matt and the team have put into the development of the business and the Rab and Lowe Alpine brands.

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He added: “This is particularly impressive when you factor in the global challenges the industry has faced over the last few years. The team has identified some compelling opportunities for developing award-winning technical products, creating an industry-leading CSR agenda, as well as driving sustainable growth across global markets. I’m looking forward to getting started and advancing these plans.”

Gowar will remain active within the business, retaining executive responsibility at Equip Board level for his areas of speciality and passion, including CSR, supplier sourcing and supporting the development in North America.

Leedham explained this position will allow him to capitalise on his experience in an industry that he loves.

He continued: “With my background, Matt’s support, and working with the excellent team in place, I see a smooth transition that will demonstrate to our partners that Equip remains the outdoor company to do business with.”

Gowar said he is delighted to welcome Leedham to the business: “His product knowledge, understanding of the outdoor industry, and experience of board operations enables me to hand the CEO role to someone who I know can move the business forward at the pace and scale needed. This frees my time up to concentrate on the areas of the business where I have the most expertise and also allows me the chance to do the things I have missed out on whilst building the business.”

In June last year Equip Outdoor Technologies said it was working on the next stage of its Material Facts programme which included adding more ranges from its collection and encouraging transparency across the fashion industry.