Weathering the storm - BikeBiz

Weathering the storm

Summer may have arrived at last but not every bike-related company suffers a downtown when it's damp.
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Anecdotally, bike sales are buoyant right now thanks to the halo effect from the Tour de France and the surge in popularity of commuter cycling but the lack of dry days through most of June and July has impacted those bicycle businesses which depend on decent weather. The UK bicycle business is notoriously weather dependent.

But some companies need not fear incessant rain. Take Wattbike and Sealskinz. Both are set-up for poor weather sales, albeit in very different ways.

Sealskinz manufacturers waterproof socks, hats and gloves, including cycling-specific gear. Wattbike produces a high-end indoor trainer, with power measurement features, and is endorsed by British Cycling.

Alex Skelton of Wattbike said: "As cyclists ourselves it's been a pretty disappointing summer weather-wise. But from a business point of view we've seen a very healthy year-on-year increase in both Wattbike sales and hires."

The company has seen a 24 percent increase in sales of its bikes to home users in the wet and dreary April to June quarter. Hires of the equipment during the same period were up by over one thousand percent.

Skelton said: "The awful British summer certainly didn't have an adverse effect on business."

SealSkinz has also benefitted from the rain. The company's David Jesson said: "we have seen an uplift in sales in the last couple of wet months especially with the waterproof socks. On a like for like versus the same period last year, which was very warm and dry, we are selling more than double the units per store per week."

Outdoor shops sell Sealskinz products year round; bike shops have tended to only sell Sealskinz in the winter. Jesson said this means many bike shops don't, er, make hay while the sun shines:

"The major challenge for retailers to try and be as flexible as possible with product merchandising to capitalise on whatever the weather is doing and deliver what consumers are looking for."

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