Bob Elliot on its new IBD-focused in-house brand KranX

Bob Elliot is launching a new in-house, IBD-focused brand this month. James Groves catches up with director Paul Elliot as he discusses close relationships, expanding offerings and self-selling products

Paul Elliot

For all their good intentions, new product ranges designed ‘with the IBD in mind’ are often later exposed as results of desultory market research comprising minimal participants. Worse still, the occasional ‘IBD range’ makes it to market without the consultation of a single bike shop owner.

Thankfully, for Bob Elliot and its new in-house brand, that won’t be an issue. KranX, launching in March, has been in the making for 18 months following considerable face-to-face market research with Bob Elliot’s partnered IBDs.

“The whole idea behind KranX is to assist shops,” Paul Elliot, director at Bob Elliot, tells BikeBiz. “We have sales staff visiting shops every single day, and returning to each shop once every two to four weeks, so we get reliable, regular feedback on what each individual IBD is looking for. And the answers have been pretty consistent.” 

Easy sell, easy purchase
Bob Elliot is now ready to receive deliveries for its new brand (see box) and expects to have three sectors – tools, pedals and finishing kit – up and running in the KranX portfolio by the beginning of spring. 

“The tools will be basic, consumable items which the shop can either use themselves, or put on the shop floor for selling,” explains Elliot. “Nothing too technical! The finishing kit will include bars, stems, seatposts, seat clamps – all the little pieces that shops are looking for. We’ve applied as much thought to this as possible, and hopefully, it will give the shops not only a nice, easy purchase, but also an easy sell, too.”

The target for Bob Elliot isn’t simply to compete on quality and value for money. “There are a lot of brands out there – regardless of the quality of the product itself – that, once in lands in the shop, isn’t really doing enough to sell itself,” says Elliot. “Maybe the packaging isn’t particularly eye-catching, or informative. With various brands, there’s no difference in the packaging from one product to the next, and it makes it quite difficult for bike shop customers to understand exactly what they’re getting.”

KranX packaging, meanwhile, will be consistent across the board, with bespoke packaging for every single product in the range. “Nowadays, bike shop owners are savvier, they want the shop to be better presented,” says Elliot. “We believe KranX can do that for them.

“Each product will have its own label, a clear, unique name and most importantly for us, a short product description. As minor as that may sound, it means that when a customer walks through the door and the staff are busy, they can read about the product themselves. The customer will know the product, the material, the quality, so they can essentially self-purchase and read about it without feeling the need to ask lots of questions.” 

No minimum orders
Elliot concedes that while KranX is an IBD-driven concept, it won’t be exclusive to shops. “Once somebody has an account with us, and a product is launched, it becomes available to all of our customer base. But KranX is tailored to the IBD, as our bespoke packaging focus demonstrates. Packaging is something that doesn’t need to be perfect for someone selling online, but it can be absolutely pivotal for the shops.”

As KranX prepares for launch, Bob Elliot has been fine-tuning the range “to the smallest detail”.  “We want to ensure the shop can buy a well-priced, well-presented product, and that they’re able to replenish from our backup stock as flexibly as possible,” says Elliot. “We aren’t asking for major commitments with KranX, but there will be a purchase incentive for the shop to help get the brand in-store. There will be no ‘you have to put in a minimum order of 50 of this product’ – shops can replenish as much as they require.”

A ten-year wait
Bob Elliot has had an IBD-focused brand in mind for quite some time, but the real work began 18 months ago, just after the 2018 Taipei Cycle Show.  “We’ve always spoken about the possibility,” says Elliot. “Probably for the past ten years. But it’s always been something for ‘one day’. It’s fantastic to be able to finally put that idea into practice.”

According to Elliot, finding the right products for the KranX range has been fairly straightforward, with the main challenge lying in the creation of appropriate packaging for each individual offering.  “We came away from the 2018 Taipei Show thinking that there was a real opportunity to help both the IBD and, of course, our own business,” explains Elliot. “The assistance the distributors provide has to go further than giving them a good product to add to their shelves. Unfortunately, shops are in a position where they need a little help, and we hope that bringing something a little bit different can achieve that.”

Despite the launch of such a significant new venture for the distributor, Elliot insists it won’t be neglecting its existing offerings. “We’re always looking for more and different suppliers,” he says. “KranX plugs gaps in the Bob Elliot portfolio, where we struggle to maximise the best sales we can get. It will take a lot of work over the first couple of years, but the brands that we already sell won’t be taking a back seat, by any stretch of the imagination. We’re not looking for KranX to replace what we already do; we want it to expand our already established offering.”

KranX launch range
The full range of KranX products is yet to be finalised, but it will include:

KranX Tools
Comprehensive range with options for both workshop use and over-the-counter sales for home mechanics. Quality products sourced from established tool manufacturers and using high-strength materials tailored for the intended uses. Highlights include Chain Quick-Link pliers with an intuitive double function that allows for both joining and separating even stubborn quick links, and a set of tough tyre levers with a slim, precise tip for easy tyre removal, as well as an integrated bottle opener!

KranX Pedals
A compact range, designed to be easy for dealers to stock, yet cover most customer requirements for replacement pedals through workshop and over-the-counter sales. All models use the latest polymer bearings, which give super smooth, maintenance-free axles from the first few turns as well as a small weight saving. Two models that stand out from the range are the UrbanGrip, a lightweight plastic body city pedal with shoe-friendly Kraton grip inserts and the AllTrail, a one-piece alloy bodied ‘MTB Flat’ pedal with strong chromoly axles and excellent value for money.

KranX Finishing Kit
An extensive selection of quality handlebars, stems, seatposts and associated small parts designed to fulfil the majority of workshop/repair requirements and over-the-counter sales. The range was manufactured using forged 6061 Aluminium, ensuring ultra-reliable quality along with excellent pricing. Key sellers are likely to be the Adjustable Ahead stem with a 31.8 clamp and 0-60 deg. rise, the 3-piece, 5-sided allen key Security Skewer Set, as well as the excellent value Micro-Adjust 400mm Seatpost, which will be available in a variety of diameters.

Elliot says: “The KranX portfolio will continue to grow through 2020, alongside the in-house KX Wheels brand. Similarly focusing on quality, well-priced product lines that regularly sell-through, it will be an easy choice for IBDs to stock. Margins for the dealer will be strong from the start but as the brand grows partner programmes and packages will be available for stockists of KranX. We will release further information on this once the ranges are available. For more information, feel free to contact us at sales@bob-elliot.co.uk.”

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