Interview: Madison and Sportline boss on iceBike* and 2014 trading

Jonathon Harker
Interview: Madison and Sportline boss on iceBike* and 2014 trading

Key trade show iceBike* has a new venue for the first time. BikeBiz quizzes Dominic Langan, CEO of Madison and Sportline, on what this means for this year's edition of iceBike*

This year it is all change for iceBike* with a brand new venue – what led to the decision to break with tradition and move to Arena: MK? What are the advantages of the new location?
We had a record breaking attendance at iceBike* 2014 with more brands on show than ever. Since its inception, we have hosted the show in-house at our premises in Milton Keynes, which has always worked brilliantly. But with the numbers we saw last year, and the increased number of attendees and brands expected for 2015 with the Sportline Show being hosted alongside iceBike*, we needed to find a bigger venue, easily accessible to dealers with better parking and accommodation options. Arena:MK, as the one of the biggest venues in Milton Keynes, was the perfect option. 

Are you expecting to beat last year’s attendance record?
We are, and current registrations already suggest this will be the case. With the new and improved venue and with everything under one roof, including the Sportline Show which will be hosted alongside iceBike* for the first time, this year’s show is certainly one not to be missed.

Will iceBike* include Sportline and Madison products together (so bikes and P&A)?
Unlike previous years, iceBike* 2015 and the Sportline Show (showcasing leading bike brands including Saracen, Genesis, Ridley, Ridgeback and Adventure) will be hosted at the same venue and at the same time, making everything more accessible to our dealers under one roof. Leeda, the well-established distributor of fishing tackle now running under the Madison and Sportline management team, will also host the first iceTackle* filled with the latest angling products from Leeda and its associated brands. Although in one location, there will be a clear area for each of the three shows at Arena:MK.

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The marketing around the show is emphasising the ‘connection and education’ part of the iceBike* package – are you keen for dealers to know it’s not just about seeing lots of new product?
This has always been the case, but we wanted to make more of it this year. We have more seminars than ever, more networking opportunities and of course iceBike* wouldn’t be the same without the evening entertainment. The show is going to have the newest and best products in the cycling world from brands such as Shimano, Garmin, Lazer, Park Tool, Thule, Pearl Izumi and many more but it is about education and being informative rather than overwhelming attendees.

What have you got lined up for entertainment this year? And what about the accommodation details?
We have entertainment booked for each evening in local bars and restaurants. Everybody enjoyed what we laid on last year and there is plenty of the same this year, you just need to register at www.icebike.co.uk to find out what we have up our sleeves. As always, we also have subsidised rooms available at partner hotels close to the show space. These are always snapped up quickly, as it is first come first served, so I urge you to sign up as soon as possible to ensure you get the accommodation you need.

It’s been 18 months since Sportline was created to handle the bike part of the business: Has the business fully transitioned now? Do you feel the results have proved it was the right decision?
The Sportline business is fully transitioned; it happened very quickly after setting the company up. For our dealers, as promised, it was always business as usual with the same processes and the same point of contacts, just under a new name so the transition wasn’t disruptive. That, along with eliminating any perceived conflicts of interest there might have been, has meant setting up Sportline was the right decision.

On paper, 2014 had all the makings of a strong sales year – the UK’s warmest on record, the Grand Depart, Commonwealth Games, etc – was it a strong sales year for Madison and Sportline?
2014 did have all the makings of a strong sales year, and it was. That said, there are always challenges and we are always looking at how we can improve things to better support our dealers and continue to improve sales year on year. Those who read my monthly column in the Independent and Messenger newsletters will be well aware of how I perceive the direction of the industry and how things can be done differently to protect it, but mostly that involves doing the basics right and that is an ethos we continue to push at Madison and Sportline. 

What are your expectations for the next 12 months?
Madison has some fast growing brands and we expect this to continue, building a greater market share and setting up a strong sales year for 2015. In 2014, export continued to grow for Madison and Sportline, which will also be pursued for the coming year. We are also planning further investments in IT, B2B, our digital presence and operational infrastructure through the year.

This year’s iceBike* runs from February 24th to 26th at Arena:MK. Register for the show at www.icebike.co.uk

Tags: icebike , distribution , interview

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