Arkel has been handcrafting pannier bags since 1998. In an earlier BikeBiz.com story on the company, Arkel's bags were described as "bomb-proof."
Last year, Arkel ramped up sales in America following the introduction of the mid-range Sakaroo line of bags, made by hand in Quebec out of Asian sourced materials.
New for 2005 is the company's first underseat bag, called, imaginitively, the Seat Bag. This features a PVC shell that encases a removable, roll-top dry bag. The Seat Bag has no zippers and is 100 percent waterproof. The Seat Bag's first shipment landed last week and the entire first run was a sell-out.
In those countries where Arkel doesn't have distributors, the company sells consumer-direct from its website. Sales and inquiries from the UK remain high. Despite expensive shipping adding to already premium-priced products (the Expedition panniers cost £295 a pair), UK customers continue to order panniers from the website.
Arkel president Paul McKenzie said:
"We're amazed at the demand from the UK and we'd really prefer to service those customers more directly. I mean, the price they're paying for our products, with shipping added, is quite high, yet they seem to not mind. We are seeking a distribution relationship to bring Arkel into the UK and offer our panniers at much more competitive price points."
According to sales manager Kevin Ryan, Arkel is considering attending the York Rally and Cycle 2005 at eXcel.
"We know from experience that having just the right distributor relationship is quite important and we're prepared to take our time and find just the right one."