Staff shake-up at Kona UK

Second Level Sport of Middlesex, the UK distributor of Kona bikes and agent for Burton snowboards, yesterday made five of its 19 staff redundant, but is recruiting for three new positions
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Of those made redundant one was from warranty, two were from accounts, one was responsible for Konas UK website and other IT tasks, and the last was Anne Dobbie, Konas marketing, advertising and PR manager for the past two years.

She is now seeking a similar post with another bike trade company (mobile 07967 620942).

John Saville of Second Level Sport blamed the redundancies on the strong pound versus the dollar and the massive discounting by competitor quality brands.

The Kona brand is as strong as its ever been but retail sales are tough. This is not helped by the dollar rate. We bought all our stuff last year at $1.62, then it went to $1.50 and now $1.47. All our price lists are based on exchange rates that are no longer there.

But our brand is not developing along the same lines as our competitors. The other brands are going downmarket. Hugely in some cases. We dont want to do that. All our marketing in the next couple of years will focus on our quality. Our bikes are extremely well specced.

The new staff includes a customer service and telesales person plus a new person on the operations and warranty side.

Dealers will find they get serviced better from now on, said Saville.

Rik Farrer of Second Level Sport added:

"Streamlining the company will enable us to avoid price rises and provide

better value for our customers. The role of SLS has changed and we must realign our overheads with our current requirements.

"SLS is an agent for Burton Snowboards where it was once a distributor which

means our administrative requirements are reduced. Outdoor Chef [a sister
company] has long since been sold and no longer draws on the recourses of

SLS.

"SLS now leans more towards sales, we have a similar staffing level to that of a few years ago but we now have more sales and less back office positions, in fact we have more sales staff then we have ever had in our 13 year history.

"Kona Mountain Bikes, Burton Snowboards and Gravis Footwear are all strong brands, each year we strengthen their image and increase sales. However we must control overheads to guarantee we remain competitive. We are aiming to sell more product next year and we are now looking forward to a good year with all three brands."

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