Clarks discusses warehouse expansion and international growth

Having grown aftermarket sales 47 per cent globally in just a few years, overseas business is more appealing than ever, says Tony Wright
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As you may have read in this month's print magazine, Clarks has expanded with a new purpose-built warehouse in the midlands. MD Tony Wright talks to BikeBiz about shorter lead times, international business and going after the customer that recognises value for money.

BikeBiz: You’re opening a new warehouse – how did that come about?
Tony Wright: Yes, that’s right. Clarks has undergone a transformation over the past few years, which has seen the business grow its aftermarket sales 47 per cent globally.
The new unit is owned by the company outright, so will be ours to develop into a well oiled machine. At present we’re looking to have the facility up and running during October, with both warehousing and office space to develop in the meantime. It’s 10,000 square feet worth of space and we’ll be using an efficient Metapack eCommerce platform that will see all orders processed automatically and dispatched far quicker than has been previously possible. It’s a very streamlined system, but we will of course be hiring further staff to run the warehouse day-to-day.

Presumably that means more staff are joining?
Yes, we have in fact had five fresh faces join us this summer already and I’m conducting interviews for warehouse personnel at present. It’s exciting to be bringing in individuals with fresh skills. I think once we’re up and running the opportunities to do much more business will really begin to open up.

And the growth isn’t just limited to the UK?
We’re finding Brazil, in particular, to be a highly active market in which we’re doing greater amounts of business.
It’s funny, though – it seems like while our OEM and aftermarket business is consistently growing the world over, things have come full circle and that’s evident in the opening of our new domestic facilities. We’re now once again facing a situation where we’re able to do much more in the UK. I have wondered for some time how long it will be before firms that once had the majority of their resource in the UK would be able to return to how things used to be. The logistics make sense to us once again.

So what’s new on the product front – it seems like Clarks is gradually becoming much more than just a brand known for brakes?
Our mission statement is to become known for value for money products and I think our product range is being received this way. It’s nice to be seriously considered by OEM manufacturers and our components are now found on more bikes than ever.
As far as aftermarket bits go, there’s obviously the new pedals, seen at Eurobike. The new floating rotors are a product we’re pleased with. In a boost to the end-user, the carrier and braking band can be mixed and matched and replacements come much cheaper than buying a whole new rotor. There’ll also be unique one-piece CNC-machined rotors designed for ultimate performance.
There’s also the new EXO hydraulic brake in black. This has been redesigned in black and is more compact than ever before, making them a top choice for OEM spec.

Why should independent retailers carry Clarks product?
Simply because you’ll not find a better value for money product to draw the customers in. Our margins are among the most generous you’ll find for aftermarket components too, so that’s a big plus point for many dealers.
Retailers may have noticed we’re running numerous promotions and incentives to do business with us this year too. Keep an eye out for details of these in BikeBiz.

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