Tandem Group's Gary Conway talks new brand Squish

Kieran Howells
Tandem Group's Gary Conway talks new brand Squish

Tandem Group Cycles has had an eventful 12 months. After a tough few years in terms of sales, and the Brexit news looming over the industry, the company is fighting back with the release of a new children’s bike range under the name Squish. Kieran Howells sits down with Gary Conway to discuss the recent changes and talk about Squish.

How are things going with Tandem at the moment?

Recent BikeBiz articles have shown that the last few months have been quite tough here. We had to make a lot of changes at the end of 2016 and regrettably, our team has lost some great people. These changes have created quite a different dynamic to the company and I personally am now very excited about the future for Tandem. We’re managing all of our IBD brands in one team now, so we can develop them in directions that compliment each other, rather than compete with one another. We’re also consolidating the ranges to allow us more time developing each model and brand, and we’re already making good headway with our plans. With new introductions including Squish and British Eagle already doing very well, we feel we’re in a much more proactive position to drive the company, and all it’s brands forward.

How did Squish come about?

Squish is actually our own creation! We wanted a fun new introduction to our kid’s ranges that could be sold alongside our established bike brands. We’ve always done very well with our Dawes and Claud Butler kid’s bikes, but creating a new brand allowed us completely free reign on the image of the branding, and bikes themselves.

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Safety is a massive issue for parents, how do you ensure quality control?

Safety is, and always has been of huge importance to us too – on all of our bike brands.  Squish is no different.  We work closely with our supply partners to ensure all components meet relevant standards, and that our frames pass ISO testing. We spent a long time choosing the right component brands for safety reasons, but also to ensure the correct fit, quality, functionality and performance.  We also only sell our products through our IBD network, so our intention is for parents to only ever see a perfect finished bike, not just a box.

How are you working with Squish to penetrate the British market?

We already have a network of loyal dealers who we’ve been working with for many years on our other bike brands. Squish compliments our existing offering very well so has been extremely well received by dealers new and old.  We’ve also created a new website exclusively for Squish and will be pushing the brand through other internal and external online activities throughout the year.

High-quality children’s bikes are a growing market at the moment, what are the benefits of Squish bikes over competitors such as Frog and Isla Bikes?

The premium kids market has certainly exploded over the last few years, with Frog and Isla being just two companies within that sector.  We feel Squish mixes high quality, low weight and ease of use perfectly, but at the same time we’ve also given the brand a healthy portion of fun. We’ve developed Squish to have all the qualities of other well-known brands, but with the image of being the cheeky little brother or sister.

Why should bike dealers stock Squish bikes?

Squish has very quickly found its place in our family of brands at Tandem Group Cycles. Dealers who are interested in Squish can also talk to us about our other ranges from Dawes, Claud Butler, British Eagle and Pulse accessories, so we can offer a great solution for consolidating supply.  We’ve been in the industry for a long time, and we always do our best to support our IBD network, so we hope you see Tandem Group Cycles as a good option for a long-term partner in your business.  We don’t ask for huge sign-up commitment, but we of course try and reward those dealers who support our brands.  We’re also lovely people here, and it’s nice to do business with nice people, isn’t it?

Are you offering any promotional tools to dealers with Squish?

Alongside the website, with its dealer locator, we’ll also be looking at options for POS and bespoke sales tools.  We don’t believe that all bike shops are the same, so we don’t offer a ‘one-size fits all’ solution.  Instead, if you talk to your account manager, we can discuss working with you on producing something exclusively for your store. We also have a targeted email database that we’ve built over several years, and will be promoting Squish products to.  All of our communications to consumers will point them straight to their local IBD.

Will there soon be any new additions to the Squish range?

The first batches of Squish were only available last month, so we’re now taking onboard feedback from dealers. We’re already thinking about new colours etc, but in the near future at least, we won’t be complicating the range with new bike designs as the majority of this market is looking for ‘hybrid’ style kids bikes.  Also, if our customers do want more bespoke models such as premium MTB’s, CX etc, we offer our Dawes Academy range to tick those boxes. 

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