Moore Large’s Adam Biggs reflects on a challenging 2018 for the cycling industry

How has 2018 been – what were the highs and lows? Were there any surprises in the year for you?
2018 has seen a significant increase in additional retailers purchasing from us, with more than 75 new retailers making a significant investment, in terms of shop space, for Tern and Forme alone. Our business has also experienced a strategic and structural change over the last year which has notably seen consolidation across our bicycle division portfolio for the bicycle reps, enabling them to fully focus on three brands: Forme, Tern and Cuda. We have recently added WTP to its portfolio too, which is starting to gain some good traction with historical Haro accounts as well as additions for WTP.

There were not any major surprises as far as industry trends or patterns were concerned this year as we have already proactively adapted to a changing marketplace. Within our IBD division, we have taken a strategic approach to selling, and don’t go direct to the customer, via click and collect or home delivery, to protect our retailers. This strategy is the polar opposite to many companies, and means our retailers can invest in our products with confidence. A major advantage to being a distributor of so many categories and product assortments usually means that if one sector is down, another is up, so this always helps us to remain in a stable, cash-rich position which in turn gives our customers the confidence to continually invest in us.

Similarly, which brands or products performed well? Any unexpected, or indeed predictable trends that emerged?
Forme is a major part of our future development and security so we did expect to see strong year-on-year growth here and we are on the right track as the brand continually evolves. The major high, and a pleasant surprise for the year, has been with Tern. We knew Tern was a fantastic brand prior to becoming its distributor, but it has arguably become one of the best brands we have ever worked with. The product development and learning over the last few years has eventually come to fruition for them, so when this is combined with the strong sales effort and back support offered by ML I suppose it was destined for success! 

The majority of the UK’s largest retailers are stocking the brand, with the major success story being Tern’s electric folding commuter bike, the Vektron, and its do-it-all cargo bike model, GSD (which stands for Get Stuff Done). We have recently launched a brand new collection of Cuda Junior bikes too, which are performing exceptionally well and collectively offer the most comprehensive range of junior bikes in the marketplace, covering most categories from entry level balance bikes to premium road, race BMX and full suspension MTBs. The bikes look exceptional and have seen some excellent commitment from over 200 dealers nationwide.

What’s in the pipeline for 2019? Any big plans?
Forme will launch around 30 new models for 2019 across Road Adventure, Junior, Cyclo Cross, e-bike and MTB, in our quest to become the largest British multi-category bicycle brand. Tern also has some show-stopping new products in the pipeline that cannot be revealed until the new year – keep an eye out for those.

For Tern, we are looking to select around a dozen stores across the country to work with as selected partners to become Tern Corner Stores. These will be a store-in-store type retailer, providing us with the very best visual brand presence and a place customers can test ride and view every series within the Tern range. Corner Stores will get full branding and merchandising, demo day support and the highest level of support, margin and terms on offer. We are working on a new project at present to offer the very best digital support for our retailers. Furthermore, the lion’s share of our marketing and promotional spend will be geared towards boosting our brand presence in store to give our consumers the very best online and in-store shopping experience.

A major addition to Moore Large products was Tannus Tyres; what were the motivations behind that deal and how do you see the brand evolving?
With the cycling infrastructure constantly changing and evolving here in the UK we have been on the lookout for new products and categories to reflect those changes. This motivated us to take on Tannus, and through our extensive dealer base we can expand its presence here in the UK. Exciting things are coming soon from Tannus and if you were lucky enough to attend the NEC Cycle Show you may have had a sneak peek of a few of the new models.

A major loss was Haro Bikes, who you had a partnership with for 24 years. You immediately added WeThePeople, Radio and Salt. Tell us a bit about that. We had a long and successful relationship with Haro, but as the BMX market continuingly evolves, brands need to also drive progression. We have always admired WeThePeople and what it brings to BMX. It is the number one brand in that sector and has been our main competitor for many years having such strength and depth to the brand. We are delighted to be working with WeMakeThings to bring WeThePeople, Radio and Salt into the UK, and believe we now we have the strongest offering of BMX products in the marketplace, with WeThePeople continuing to be the number one brand, Radio launching into a new chapter with the expansion of its already great offering, and Salt/Saltpus delivering all the components every BMX’er needs!

You also added Guee, a company specialising in handlebar-mounted technology, in February. Could you talk about that?
We were delighted to launch our partnership with Guee this February, introducing its range of innovative Cycling Solutions to our customers. Receiving a warm welcome from those customers, Guee has proved a popular addition to our portfolio. With some exciting additions to that range on the horizon for 2019, we are looking forward to witnessing the growth of this range of clever, well-made products. 

Now we’re a way into negotiations, do you have an idea what Brexit will mean for you as a company, and your brands – has a clearer picture emerged of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead?
ML has been in constant discussions with its European suppliers and are confident that that irrespective of the type of Brexit agreement reached , we will enjoy secured supplies, and as always ML carries very good stocks of all our ranges. 

Geared Show is Moore Large’s in-house trade show, which you took on the road to Perth, Scotland, this year. Can you share your highlights? What are your plans for next year’s event? 
The company has run its trade show in one form or other for every one of its 44 years. We made our return to Scotland this year with the travelling geared show showcasing new additions to our impressive portfolio. Products that most caught the dealers’ eye were the new range of long-travel bikes from Enduro, the Polygon Siskiu N series, and the new 2019 WeThePeople BMX bikes range. It’s so important that we make time to take the products to the dealers in Scotland, and they always reward us by taking the time to attend. The friendly, laid back atmosphere of the Perth racecourse venue makes it a real pleasure to exhibit at. 

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Saddleback Ltd I Yate, Bristol I Salary dependent on experience I Date Published Friday 8th February 2019