“Our ultimate goal is to bring the brand back to its position it held in the market during the glory days and with that, start performing better in tests.”
That’s the frank assessment of Claud Butler’s aspirations going forwards from product and marketing director Dave Drury.
With the firm’s Brigg-based production site having finally closed its doors in 2006, Claud Butler held out until quite late in the day to allow its production to head east, as countless others had done before. The last bike out of the door was a customised carbon fibre build, which was presented to a local charity for auction and subsequently sold for over £10,000.
With the unfortunate realisation that UK production was no longer feasible, the workforce shrunk dramatically and skills were lost. But not all.
“Our existing workforce is made up of long serving staff, some of who used to work on the manufacturing side, but are now in the warehouse, so the skills remain for any future projects we run and we have a few ideas,” says Drury.
That brings us to the present day, where having restructured and relocated the entire operation to a 40,000 square foot warehouse with one external office, Claud Butler is once again in a position to make some bold moves in the right direction.
“We’ve started to pull in dealers who perhaps haven’t ordered for four or five years,” said Drury. “That’s a big positive I think, as it shows some confidence is returning in Claud Butler and certainly the product’s quality is now very much back on track.”
The range is made up of bikes costing from £250 at retail, right through to £1,250 and with the average purchase price creeping up, there’s potential for some exploration outside traditional price points, explains Drury.
“Our best sellers at present seem to be the cyclocoss bikes, where demand often tests our supply. With cyclocross bikes being as versatile as they are and many buyers using them as commuter rigs, we see this as a big growth area.”
Claud Butler’s bread and butter sales have traditionally been the sit-up-and-beg leisure bike, so it’s no surprise to find a vibrant showroom full of ‘Cambridge’ shopper’s. But among the new stock, there’s also some gems for the road cyclist and mountain biker emerging.
“It turns out the dealer isn’t entirely all for the phasing out of 26-inch,” jokes Drury. “We tried to go with the trend for 27.5 and 29ers and there’s plenty new here, but there was a backlash against the phasing out of 26, so we now offer a bit of everything. Build wise, there’s more hydroforming going on, so the frames look and feel the part. Across the entire range we’ve actually revamped every single frame spec and geometry, modernising each to suit current end-user demands.”
Further to updated geometries and wheel sizes, the firm has embraced the electric bike, adding the distribution of Urban Mover, as well as own label e-bikes, giving dealers an option should they have a customer seeking power assistance.
There’s fixies too, catering for the urban retailer, while Scorpion bikes satisfy the parent looking for a first BMX for little Johnny.
Like many others in the business, the Tour de France’s arrival will be embraced by the firm, which plans to have promotional limited edition bikes for the road going cyclist.
That’s far from all though, says Drury. “We’re on the verge of signing a significant deal that will change the business, but at this stage that’s all I can say.”
If you would like to become a Claud Butler dealer, the distributor is very keen to speak to both old and fresh accounts. You can either contact one the six area sales representatives covering the UK, or call the Claud Butler office on 01652 656000.