This week we talk all things apparel with PRIMAL Europe's James Smith

In our latest series, we’re getting to grips with the brands that you deal with every day. The ‘Five minutes with’ series will present a company with five short, sharp and to-the-point questions about who they are and what they do. This week we’re joined by PRIMAL Europe director James Smith

Can you tell us the history of the company?

PRIMAL was launched in 1992 in Denver USA by a chap called Dave Edwards who is still our partner to this present day. Judith (wife) and I met with Primal at the London Bike Show back in 2011, at the time we were looking for a sponsor for our Cycling Team. We agreed a deal there and then to sponsor the team. After about six months Primal asked Judith to work for them here in the UK. Within a year we had set up PRIMAL EUROPE and PRIMAL USA had shut their Milan office and shipped all stock, packaging rails etc to us.

Interesting to have ten pallets arrive on your driveway. I was still in the military at the time so Judith began working on the business. We moved to shared offices, took on one member of staff. Fast forward to today and now we have eight staff, around ten agents across Europe and have a presence on most of the main online retailers.

What are you ultimately trying to achieve?

Our business has two facets. Catalogue and custom; they are around 50 per cent each in the business, we would like to break into Europe in a much bigger way, this has been interesting so far and we have had some success, but right now the uncertainty over Brexit is making our European friends think twice before committing.

I feel that British companies are trying to continue to export as before but are being hampered by this whole nightmarish scenario. In the U.K we want to be first company clubs, teams, retailer, corporates and charities think of when it comes to custom clothing. We are working hard at the moment in ensuring that is the case, I don’t think there will be a cyclist out there in the UK that wont be on a touch point with PRIMAL at some point in 2018. These include partnerships with Team Onform, Velothon Wales and Velo29 events.

What gives you an edge over other companies in the industry?

I think the seamless nature of our custom service helps a lot, we are able to control our own exclusive production line. This means no six to eight weeks – we have a solid guaranteed date. I think moreover that we’re still cyclists. We still ride bikes. I still compete at Cyclocross and we try to remain focused on the needs of the customer. In our off the peg range, we’re certainly well known for bright and exciting designs. We are a long way from black clothing and miserable photos! Cycling is fun, lets remember that.

What innovations in the industry are exciting you at the moment?

Single ring bikes and disc brakes just mean that bikes are getting easier and easier to use and get into. I know a lot of purists don’t like discs, but to me it is obvious that anything we can do to get more people on bikes is good for all of us, the other areas are e-bikes and wearables.

What does the future hold for the company?

We would like to find a partner and really make our “think of PRIMAL first” concept comes to fruition. We are in no rush though and will find someone that has the same professional mindset where the customer comes first.

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