Brand specialisation, tubeless focus and a new home: A fresh direction for Paligap

BikeBiz caught up with managing director David Lane and newly-appointed national sales manager James Wellman

How successful has 2019 proved at Paligap?
During 2019 we continued the strategic review of our business and exited further brands that were not performing in the UK market. We all know how challenging the market is, and with our restructuring during late 2018 into 2019, we feel our business is ready for the next chapter in Paligap’s plans, which we are all excited about.

One major change our business has seen this year was recent, when we moved out of our home of ten years, into short-term offices and warehousing whilst our new carbon-neutral facility is built. These moves are all within one mile of each other, and we remain in Yate, South Gloucestershire.

Paligap dropped multiple brands throughout 2018 – what was the thinking behind that, and how has that strategy evolved in 2019?
A strategic review of non-profitable brands led us to cull several of them in 2018, and more moving into 2019. The market is rapidly moving into over-supply mode, and we know many retailers are going out of business and/or losing money. This will undoubtedly have a huge knock-on effect with distributors, and we believe in this market place, the focus needs to be on brand development and delivering great results for each brand we carry. 

We made the decision to become brand specialists rather than continue to work in the traditional distributor business model, so we are able to focus on the continued development of the brands we represent; Stan’s No Tubes, ALE, Cipollini, Goodyear and DMT. By having such a concentrated focus, we are well-positioned to continue to develop this. We are able to carry a depth of inventory that IBDs can call on with quick turnaround/deliveries, so the stock-holding pressure is taken away from these smaller independent businesses. We are experts in the brands we represent, and the competitive categories they lie in due to our new structure, and we feel this is paramount in moving forward in such a challenging market.

With this new approach, it has enabled us to invest in developing our market-leading B2B system and offer industry-leading carriage-paid options.

What is your relationship with local bike shops?
We have been supporting UK IBDs through our Stan’s No Tubes Point of Sale programme for everything tubeless, and the wheel line up which have been a major success for our business since being introduced in late 2017.

This has evolved through 2019 by the addition of an additional Silver POS unit that a number of IBDs had requested through our brand specialist team, which allows better use of space within certain stores. We continue to listen to feedback from IBDs and adapt our offerings to support their requirements.

Another example of how we have supported IBDs in 2019 has been the very successful launch of the brand-new Stan’s No Tubes Dart, which is the repair system for tubeless tyres. This was launched in November and has been an overwhelming success story in how to launch a new product, focussed at the IBD. We created awareness ahead of delivery at the dealer and consumer level, a great pre-order programme for IBDs, and continued marketing and distribution programmes.

With 2020 just around the corner, what are your plans to tackle a new year in the industry?
As a business moving into 2020, we have very clear goals and a strategy with our brands to ensure we support the IBDs in-store with a cutting edge B2B, stock support, training/education, Point of Sale, demo products and much more.

Stan’s will have yet more instore POS to support the IBDs with a workshop offering, details of which will be announced to the market and dealers in December 2019.

One area that we have invested in during 2019 for IBDs, and has continued rapid growth and development plans for 2020 is ALÉ, the Italian clothing brand we represent. We all know the challenges IBDs face when stocking clothing, so we are developing an IBD programme where they can stock this prestigious brand without competing with the online sector. Bespoke, desirable cycle kit, designed by our in-house designer specifically for each individual Alé IBD stockist. This kit will be turned around quickly, with low MOQs and is produced in Italy as per Alé’s core ranges. As well as these exclusive offerings, our IBD in-line programme does not tie dealers up with large pre-orders as we have invested into deep support stock through 2020, ensuring IBDs are supported in terms of cash-flow and risk-management. 

In line with our low pre-order and stocking requirements from IBDs, our 2020 DMT shoe programme also means IBDs can range DMT without large investments, with the confidence of good support stock at Paligap.  The new purely knitted range is super sharp, and we are looking forward to seeing growth of this brand.

Cipollini will have new models available, and a full demo fleet that will support the IBDs, and again details will be announced in December on the full program. James will be managing this prestigious brand, and anyone wishing to discuss Cipollini should contact James via jwellman@paligap.cc or 07889 174 305. Cipollini is a brand that has gone through a complete management restructure in Italy, as well as bringing in industry-leading engineers to re-establish the brand in the marketplace.

Wellman returns

What attracted you to your new role at Paligap?
I came back to the business after moving to Saddleback, where I worked for three years covering the account manager position for the South West & Wales, representing the full range of its portfolio of premium cycling brands. I felt it was right to go back to Paligap as I worked closely with David Lane in my previous role at Paligap. 

The company’s plans working with fewer core brands in the UK market really appealed to me, along with their vision and goals for the next chapter in the business plans. I also know the majority of the team at Paligap having worked with a number previously, and plus the new additions felt it would be a good fit. Paligap has always had a great working environment and although we are serious about our business, we also believe it is important to have fun!

What is your background in the industry?
I have always been in sales roles starting with a major banking corporation in the heart of Bristol. I then had the opportunity to move to Paligap which was a great opportunity for myself to move into a business I had a real passion for. I spent six years covering internal and external account manager roles before moving across to Saddleback.

How do you plan to approach the market?
By continuing to build on the strong relationships I have already with a number of key dealers, working with integrity, and delivering market-leading levels of customer service along with delivering industry experience that is unrivalled from our peers on behalf of the brands we work with.

What is your experience of working with IBDs, and how do you plan to evolve those relationships?
Due to spending a number of years on both the South West & South East territories as an External Account Manager plus my time within internal sales I looked after a number of key accounts and built a lot of relationships that will stand me on good ground in my new role. I have a deep understanding of the industry and always pride myself with my brand knowledge, honest approach and I would say I am happy to go above and beyond to support our customer base. 

I will develop these relationships by spending quality time with the UK IBDs which will involve not only covering the South East key customers but also supporting the two brand specialists who cover the rest of the UK and Ireland.

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