Raleigh MD Mark Gouldthorp has come under attack from the European Two-Wheels Retailer Association.
The association, headquartered in Belgium and with an English president, has issued a statement on its website expressing amazement at Gouldthorp's view, published in The Guardian, that some IBDs are like Steptoe and Son, as reported on BikeBiz.com on Friday.
"We felt that, on behalf of the bicycle dealers in the UK and in Europe, we could not pass over these comments in silence," said ETRA. The association has also sent the missive to The Guardian.
Extracts from ETRA's letter:
Mr Gouldthorp describes Raleigh as “one of those case study opportunities”, not exactly the typology of a company aiming at instilling respect and confidence in its customers. But then again, it seems that Mr Gouldthorp does not seek respect and confidence from his customers at all since he labels them as either “a bunch of vipers” or “shambles … real Steptoe and Son stuff”.
We also wonder whether Raleigh is in the bicycle or in the toy business since Mr Gouldthorp states that the “Molly”, a small bright pink confection with glittery pom poms and a dolly carrier behind the seat, which retails at between £80 and £100 is their best selling bike.
Reducing costs and improving quality hasn’t helped Raleigh, according to Mr Gouldthorp. As a result he will do it himself, by means of a franchise. That is probably the best thing to do because after this interview he is unlikely to find many of those “50 to 60 year old, highly cynical, miserable, moaning and scruffy” dealers still prepared to sell his Molly’s.
How different Raleigh’s situation is from for instance the major national brands in Holland. They are not only surviving, they are booming and blooming. The same goes for independent bike shops. 78% of all new bikes on that market are sold by “old, cynical, miserable, moaning and scruffy gits”. The average value of the bicycles they sell is € 678 (£ 489), but then again they are not bright pink, they have neither glittery pomp poms nor a dolly carrier behind the seat.
In short, Mr Gouldthorp believes the situation in the bicycle business is hopeless. We do not understand why he has not moved into the car business yet.
In case anybody wonders how some bicycle manufacturers and retailers still survive? They respect each other, they try to build partnerships and they don’t build their business on Molly’s but on cycling pleasure. They do believe cycling can contribute to solving problems such as obesity, congestion, pollution, … They go to work by bike and if the infrastructure is lousy, they lobby their local council. They team up with cycling advocacy groups and they take their customers out on cycling rides. They listen to their customers’ needs and try to translate that in the bicycle that will fit those needs best. But Mr Gouldthorp’s interests clearly lie elsewhere.