While the good weather has helped Clarks Cycle Systems get off to a good start in 2014, there’s also been a vast amount of work put in behind the scenes to make sure the year has got off on a good footing. Not only developing new product, Clarks has recently made considerable investment into a new B2B site and in new offices and a warehouse in Hinckley. BikeBiz speaks with Clarks Cycle Systems managing director Tony Wright…
How’s business? Has the start of 2014 hit your expectations?
Yes, Q1 so far has exceeded our expectations and it has been a fantastic start to the year. I believe that the milder than usual winter seen across the UK has had a lot to do with the strong start to 2014.
You recently launched a new B2B site. How has that been received and what are the key advantages to the new system?
The B2B has been extremely well received and we have seen a large volume of new orders since its launch. The B2B site has a number of advantages, the main benefit to the customer is the availability as the majority of the orders are packed and dispatched within 24 hours allowing the distributors to keep the majority of our lines available all-year-round as it is not as heavily dependent on good forecasting from the distributor. This in turn keeps the bike shops pleased as they can make the sales that they would have been missing out on this time last year due to poor availability.
What can you tell us about the new M2 hydraulic disc brake? How long has it been in production, have you got an RRP set for it and what are its key selling points?
The M2 brake system has been in development for around 14 months now. We have heavily tested this brake to ensure that it can cope and perform well and consistently with every terrain and weather condition that is thrown at it. They are very lightweight at 392g a wheel and a hinged clamp lever design makes for an easy installation. There’s 112nm of power produced and 2 x 22mm diameter pistons ensure even power distribution to the disc pads. The system also has reach adjustment and are mineral oil filled.
Can you take us through some of the other key new products or ranges that Clarks has in store for 2014?
One of the key new products for 2014 is of course the M2 as mentioned above, but we’ve also got our CMD-15 cross/road-specific brake that has a huge level of adjustment to ensure the end user get the perfect setup. We will also be realising a number of our floating rotors in 140mm options to support the increased demand for use with road bike and CX bikes.
You’ve mentioned that Clarks has an ambition to be a brand that consumers ask for when they come into bike shops. Have you got any key plans in place to help make that happen or is that more of a long-term ambition?
Yes, we have recently revised our product packaging and we are moving away from the red a little. It has not totally been eradicated but there is certainly less red used on the new packaging.
We have also incorporated a symbols system that will help point out the product features to the end user. We believe this a key part in lifting the brand image along with keeping our product range up to date and releasing new and exciting products to the market such as our M2.
As a cycle P&A company with distribution all over the world, how does the UK market compare at the moment? Is it bucking the downturn and are things back on the up?
Yes, the UK cycle market does seem to be on the way up and as I mentioned earlier it has been a great start to the year. So hopefully 2014 could shape up to be a record year, weather permitting.