In the stationery and office supplies trade there are about 2500 independent retailers, a figure not dissimilar to the number of IBDs.
In the bike trade there is one buying group: CoBR. In the stationery trade there are 14!
One of these buying groups has noticed the similarity between bike shops and office supplies retailers (thousands of SKUs; shop usually operated by an owner/manager; and margin pressures thanks to external providers such as supermarkets and category killers) and, yesterday, launched Bike Chain UK.
This provisional name is the cycle trade specific front for six year old Superstat of Bradford.
Superstat will be at the Cycle and Leisure Show but it is already securing deals for its members. Twenty five IBDs have signed up for the purchasing and marketing service so far and this figure is expected to rise quickly, says Karly Beasley of Superstat. The target for the first year is 150-200 dealers.
Were aiming mainly for dealers with turnovers in excess of £400 000 a year, says Steve Thomas, the sales director of Bike Chain UK. He has 20 years experience in the bike trade. He was the first employee of Caratti Sport and worked as northern sales manager for the company until November 1999. He officially joined Superstat two weeks ago.
CoBRs Laurie Sedman knows Superstat well. Before joining the bike trade he was involved with Integra, a buying group in yes, you guessed it the stationery and office supplies trade.
Hes philosophical about Superstats entry into the bike trade:
Im surprised its taken so long for people within the stationery industry to come in. However, CoBR set its stall out from the beginning as much more than just a buying group so Im not overly concerned.
Were all about helping the independent cycle retailer and the supplier and manufacturer to do the right kind of thing for the industry so we all gain from it. Were not all about screwing an additional margin out suppliers.
There have been buying groups in the bike trade before. Linton Smith, IBD-owner of GW Smith Cycles of Falkirk, operated CycleMaster until the late 1980s and regional ones such as the Yorkshire Buying Group have also been successful in their time.
In the stationery trade theres a rule that when a retailer becomes a member of one buying group, they cant be a member of another. In theory, the same may be true in the bike trade: before they join, CoBR members have to sign a declaration that, in effect, they will stay loyal to CoBR. However, Laurie Sedman says this clause on the application form has been academic up until now and a decision has yet to be made whether this stipulation would be enforced.
ACT members would be free to join Superstats Bike Chain UK because the ACT is not a buying group.
Superstat (Bicycle Link UK) can be contacted on tel: 01274 619 955.