It all started with four models and now, just two years on, Moore Large’s in-house bike brand Forme has 52 models in the new range.
But expansion of the line-up isn’t the only reason it’s going to be a big year for Forme. Having beefed up its infrastructure with a key appointment or two, Forme is being taken to the next level, not least with the launch of a junior range called Formeula.
But let’s start with the range expansion. Adam Biggs and new Forme recruit Rebecca Moore tell BikeBiz that it’s all about measuring up to the competition.
“2013 is a big expansion for us,” explains Biggs. “It’s all about trying to compete with the mainstream brands like Giant and the rest. They all have in excess of 200 models.”
He says: “We’ve only ticked a few boxes in each market sector, we’ve certainly not got a model at every £50 juncture.”
Forme’s MTB series, for example, has targeted the race enthusiast, featuring five 29ers and price points from £500 all the way up to the showpiece carbon 29er, retailing at £3,500.
“You need to have an expensive flagship bike in the range to show off what the brand can do and to give it credibility,” Biggs adds.
And just as important is the starting point of the prices – the bikes have to be accessible to Joe Public, Biggs says. “We want to see as many people as possible on our bikes, so you need accessible price points – there are levels we’ll never go below, of course. Our goal is to bring class and innovative design to the mainstream.”
Forme has struck up a working relationship with 4ZA for the forthcoming model year. Why? Well it was not a decision that was based on the fact that Moore Large distributes both brands, the duo are keen to emphasise, other than in terms of aftersales service. Biggs explains: “There’s a risk to using a not so well known brand like 4ZA, but there were so many reasons for us to use them. Their support has been brilliant and they’ve allowed us to customise every single part.”
“We’ve even been able to use our specific pantone and design,” adds Moore.
Now every Forme bike has ‘British Design’ stamped on it and much of the range will feature Campagnolo, although there are still some Shimano options. The change is down to a few factors, including good old-fashioned lust.
“We like the ergonomics, and everything about Campag. The sex appeal of an Italian brand is certainly a factor – the brand is associated with the real high-end and that’s valuable to us. The supply is reliable too and another factor is that virtually every mainstream brand uses Shimano. We wanted to stand out and do something different.”
Forme-ula for success
So what about Forme’s expansion into the junior market? What inspired the move? Biggs takes up the story. “The market is absolutely dominated by Isla Bikes. If you go to any race event they almost seem to have a monopoly and it’s because they do everything right, it’s a great brand. But,” he adds: “they don’t offer product to IBDs – they are direct.”
As you’d expect, the Forme team has not just jumped into the market willy nilly, with research going on months prior to the creation of the Formeula range. Biggs attended GoRide Coaching Sessions and as a youth rider himself knows a thing or two about the market. It's all about the fundamentals, the duo agrees, with simple but sometimes overlooked points like having the bike designed for the short reach of a youth.
The Formeula line-up will start with a tight collection of bikes and develop with the market. The plan is for youths to enjoy the range and gradually progress to Forme – the Foremula name was arrived at for its link to Forme. “We didn’t want an intangible connection, we wanted consistency.”
“We’re treating it as a separate brand to a degree. And we want them to look cool and be something to aspire to.”
Biggs has praised the level of support offered by the brand’s distributor. Biggs reveals that whenever he’s come to the table with a request – to expand the range by 15 models or invest in staff – he’s been met with zero resistance.
“Now we have Beccs on board. She worked previously at Moore Large for six years in telesales, which is really useful for us as she got to know the dealers in the role.”
Investment in the form of marketing will be more extensive in cycling magazines, which marks a slight a change for the brand which has previously put much of its marketing cash into shop POS. There are three levels of dealer commitment – Pro shop, Platinum and Gold, with the Pro (of which there are five at time of press) almost like a brand or concept store. What are the ambitions in terms of store count? “We are looking to expand across the UK, but not to go mad. The benefits are a huge exclusive territory for the dealer – it makes them a destination store. Margins are competitive – as a new brand we’re competitive.”
When BikeBiz spoke to the duo, they’d spent the previous day filming promo videos in the Peaks – another first for the brand – starring Alex Welburn who tweeted about the shoot and soon had crowds watch him racing down hills.
Moore tells BikeBiz: “We’ve never done video before and it’s just another thing where we’re going to the next level. The videos will be for dealers to use.”
Aside from growing its dealer base from the current 160 to around 300, nationally, Forme is plotting to eventually go global. “We want to be breaking into the international markets and be at Eurobike. We could have done that this year to test the water, but we want to be satisfied we’ve got the infrastructure and that we can walk before we can run. We have to get it right for the UK consumer first. But,” concludes Biggs, “it’s a case of when, not if.”