Many trade veterans will remember the Vee Rubber label from some 15 years ago when formerly represented by one of the nation’s largest distributors. Returning this month with Hamish Stewart’s Bicyclebitz Limited, Mark Sutton finds out what opportunities it will offer dealers once more…
It was back in the days when wholesaler Crabtrees were a power to be reckoned with in the cycle trade that Vee Rubber last commanded a market share in the UK. Some 15 years ago, as many will remember, the distribution firm went bust and Vee Rubber was left without a partner. At a time when the Thailand-based rubber specialist was pulling in contracts from around the world, the UK representation fell down the ‘to do list’, we’re told.
With bicycle accessory veterans Mel Payne and Hamish Stewart having recently started BicycleBitz Limited, the pair approached Vee Rubber with the facts and figures of the base import value of the UK market – some £24 million at cost – and the manufacturer has agreed to once again ship to these shores. BicycleBitz Limited has since opened a warehouse in Scunthorpe ready for the large volume of tyres and tubes now on the water.
Stock will land later this month, with further shipments landing with BicycleBitz Limited at a rate of one container per month for the foreseeable future.
Stewart told BikeBiz: “They’re an extremely large firm. For those who don’t remember the label from years gone by, they are Honda’s OEM tyre manufacturer, so they know a thing or two about rubber. We approached them with what we believe will be a gap in the market to fill and showed them some of the figures we’d dug out and things have really gone from there. We’ll be importing both a standard and a premium range, with around 80 per cent of those from the standard group to begin with, yet as more containers land, we’ll have greater stocks of quality performance rubber goods. They’re actually bang on trend too, with multiple tyres available for some of the newly trending sizes.”
The premium quality tyres and tubes are something Stewart is excited about, with a Butyl tube weighing 50 per cent less than the equivalent standard product, as well as self sealing tubes and other lightweight rubber on the way. BicycleBitz Limited has placed its performance product under the wheels of a rising star on the female mountain bike circuit too, furthering its claim to be up there with the big players in terms of performance.
The aforementioned gap spotted by Stewart and his partners relates to the consolidation of its distribution partners by the UK’s current market leader in order to keep pricing in check – a very modern problem with which Stewart sympathises. With many distributors now lacking a tyre brand, BicycleBitz Limited, as agents for Vee Rubber, are currently talking to various wholesalers about reselling Vee Rubber.
“We think we have a strong long-term plan. The product is already cheaper at retail price than competitors, so we can’t and won’t allow any unnecessary discounting to take place. The product is top quality and there’s a large catalogue of tyres and tubes to cover the adult cycling market. For the city rider we have a selection of folding Kevlar tyres and Aromet banded product. Vee Rubber were among the first companies to use Aromet bands in response to the price of Kevlar rising substantially.”
For discussion on adopting Vee Rubber into your catalogue, contact UK and Ireland sales representative Geoff Lee on 07775 875 988, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.