Can cycling still battle through tough economic conditions? Just how will the hectic show season pan out? Jonathon Harker asks the cycle trade for their predictions for the next 12 months and beyond...
Simon Ellison, Co-Director, Zyro:
“As an industry we need to remain confident in our future. Very few industries have so many positive aspects going for them.
The bicycle is increasingly seen as the solution for overcoming the congestion, pollution and health issues we face. On a sporting level, as we move towards the 2012 Olympics, cycling’s profile is sure to increase further. Team GB has medal winning potential and the media is increasingly aware of this.
"The question marks that have hung over the Cycle to Work Scheme during 2010 now very much appear to have been addressed. As an industry, we need to ensure we recapture the momentum that has been lost due to the uncertainty surrounding the scheme and ensure that people are aware of the scheme benefits. The bicycle industry needs to have a national show that is supported by the industry as a whole, but overcoming the different requirements of bicycle and parts and accessory suppliers has always proved to be difficult. However Eurobike has managed to do that – and have public days also – so it is possible!”
Emerson Roberts, Sales and Marketing Director, Brompton:
“2011 is going to be huge for us, certainly the most important year since 2005. We have a couple of mid-year launches and the year-end product roll out for 2012 will feature developments that have not been launched in 2010/2011. I am hugely excited about the coming 12 months.”
David Miall, Co-Founder, Wisper and Chairman, British Electric Bicycle Association:
“This year  the success of e-bikes has been better documented and this brings a whole new challenge with it. As BikeBiz has already reported, there appears to be a new ‘wave’ of new entrants into the e-bike market looking to jump onto the band wagon. Some of the new e-bike ‘brands’ are simply off-the-peg Far Eastern imports, just badged up and introduced into the market without the necessary technical expertise and back-up for dealers and consumers.
"At the other end of the spectrum, the UK appears to be following Europe with some fantastic new dedicated e-bike offerings that will appeal to a wider target audience.
"We do believe as the market matures, the message to both dealers and consumers is beginning to get through that they need to buy product that conforms to EN Specifications and other formal industry standards. Overall, our predictions for 2011 are optimistic, anticipating further growth for the e-bike market in response to a better understanding of the concept of e-cycling, a greater need to find more cost effective ways of living and travelling and of course everyone’s concern for the environment.”
Russell Merry, Joint Managing Director, Cycling Sports Group UK:
“2010 has been a year where we have seen significant growth in all areas of our business, particularly Cannondale and WTP. 2011 should see us beat the early months because we will be comparing against a time when we had a lot of snow on the ground. CSG’s intention for 2011 will be to strongly develop its P&A business through further development of our existing brand portfolio and potentially seeking to distribute P&A from brands who feel that their current distributor is not maximising their potential.”
Cedric Chicken, Director, Chicken Cyclekit:
“We only published one price list over the last 12 months – this was an achievement in itself and we will be lucky to do the same in 2010. Whilst Greece is still suffering, concerns about Portugal increase. These are counterbalanced by the Euro support package that may see the Euro gain in strength. The impact of UK cuts, unemployment and possible strikes will have a negative impact on sterling and again could lead to a further possible rise in the Euro.
Sterling lost more than eight per cent of its value (23 Aug – 11 Oct) and there’s 2.5 per cent added to Value Added Tax. The other major factor influencing rates at the moment is the issue of Quantitative Easing and who, and by how much, will have to enter the market to avoid a double dip recession. It is expected that the US will do so and this will again impact on all rates. Forward currency positions are too unpredictable to anticipate.
"Raw material cost increases feed through too so price changes are unavoidable. How do you improve a UK economy based on so little manufacturing (it was 20 per cent of GDP in 1994, now a mere four per cent) – with far too much reliance on a buoyant housing market? And since so much is imported, things may not improve for a while.
"Maintaining the large sales increases of 2010 will be harder to replicate. However, there is a head of steam out there. With online sales in general now 15-20 per cent up every year, some retail outlets are improving their market share rapidly.Cycling is now properly presented in High Street shops and hopefully levels of profitability will improve. We are trying to give retailers more value for money which, when we are talking about very top quality products with a relatively small market, is not easy. The run up to the 2012 Olympics and all the publicity cycling gets should help our cause.
"Everybody will be affected in some way. There will be a greater dependency on suppliers having the right product at the right time. There will be some de-stocking at retail levels, already evidenced by fewer bulk / forward orders. Running a tight ship will be the answer – it always is in times of considerably economic downturn. Savings must be made in terms of greater efficiency throughout one’s business. This may mean financing improvements that may not bear fruit immediately. Our new Microsoft computer package has been live since mid-September and we can see big advantages for customers. At the end of the day everybody knows there is room for improvement. It is just a question of the willingness to learn new ways of working. The choice for the consumer is overwhelming. Our suppliers produce ever better products year-on-year and still make them competitive. There is no reason why any section of the market should not be able to benefit from this new era of cycling mania.”