Those attending the AGM were able to hear of another strong year for the Association which included:
Continued increases in IBD turnover and market share
ACT membership numbers up by 14% over the past 2 years
Gross membership growth over the past 2 years now at 30%
Strong signs that the IBD sector remains in good health in comparison to other independent retail sectors, confirmed by ACTs colleagues at the Independent Retail Consortium
The Association remains committed to ongoing development and structural reform, with IBDs being the beneficiaries of ACTs increasing power to add value through services and benefits alongside its more proactive efforts to increase partnerships and launch new initiatives to benefit the entire sector.
ACTs closer working relationship with BAGB was highlighted as an important step forward for the entire cycle trade in terms of supporting the future of cycling witnessed via the joint creation of Bike Hub. This initiative has increased Government support for the sector and alongside Phillip Darntons efforts in bringing all stakeholders together, is viewed by the ACT Board as the most exciting opportunity in years to increase cycle usage and awareness.
2005 represents a significant year for the IBD sector and several notable initiatives were highlighted as particularly exciting opportunities:
Cycle Insurance Replacements
With the re-launch of its cycle insurance replacements scheme ACT is confident that every UK IBD now has a great opportunity to retain customers and increase business.
With the backing of leading UK bike brands and investment in an exciting new identity and promotional campaign, ACT hopes that 2005 will mark the start of renewed sector growth in the cycle insurance replacements business, which will go some way toward levelling the field for IBDs.
Green Travel Plans
With the first few Booost schemes launching through IBDs shortly, ACT hopes exciting new opportunities will be created for IBDs by the Governments Green Travel Plans in 2005. Participating IBDs will finally get genuine opportunities to realise the massive potential for new customers and increased sales offered through the schemes.
The CyTech standard remains an important area for the IBD sector in terms of service differentiation and benchmarking. Despite issues with provision of courses the demand for CyTech training increased during 2004 and many more candidates are now qualified to industry recognised standards.
In seeking to move this forward for 2005, the Board of ACT has offered the exclusive rights to the CyTech brand and courses developed last year, to providers who can satisfy demand for Government funded and fast route training. CyTech courses are being extended into new fields and will ultimately provide a visible rating of IBD service to consumers.
The forthcoming launch of the ACT website will finally give IBDs access to a single resource for news, advice and information. With specific areas for trade and members the new website has been designed to provide both members and non-members with more access to vital business information, technical advice and news articles produced specifically for IBDs.
The new website also gives ACT members even greater potential to promote their businesses by enabling them to display information on brands, opening times and services.
Ongoing investment in lobbying and supporting key cycling initiatives was viewed as a continuing and important role for ACT, especially as the weight of red-tape increases for small businesses and cycle retailers. Involvement with CPAG, ETRA and the IRC were highlighted as particular areas of focus.