This month, BikeBiz catches up with Troll Outdoors brand director Dafydd Huws following its UK distribution partnership with Dexshell
Can you give us a little background on DexShell?
DexShell is a range of waterproof and highly breathable socks, gloves and hats that uses a membrane from UK company Porelle across its range of products. The brand name comes from the words ‘dexterous’ and ‘shell’ as the whole range has been designed to offer maximum protection from the elements while being flexible and comfortable to wear in all conditions. Comfort is key!
Now globally available in 23 countries, the brand continues to expand and with glowing media and consumer reviews, the future is looking strong, so we’re very excited to continue to offer it to the UK cycle industry through Troll Outdoors. DexShell prides itself on superior quality and performance at a highly competitive price point for both the retailer and consumer. Value for money, high performance and customer satisfaction are key considerations for the brand.
What area of the market does DexShell target?
The range is ideal for anyone riding a bike across any part of the market. The Pro Visibility socks, for example, are ideal for commuters and road riders, whereas the Ultrathin and Ultra Dri are ideal for leisure, mountain bike and gravel. The range has a selection of thicknesses, lengths and thermal ratings from Ultrathin for summer showers through to Ultra Dri for the coldest and wettest of winter days. The different sock thicknesses mean that you can also find the ideal fit for your choice of cycling shoe too.
What makes DexShell unique? What does it offer that its competitors perhaps do not?
As you may expect, we are not in the business of saying how we compare to our competition. We would much rather the trade and the end user do that for us as they are better placed to be completely unbiased in their assessment. DexShell simply concentrates on making the very best product possible, driven by consumer feedback and demand, alongside keen pricing and strong customer service. It actively welcomes feedback from the trade, media and consumers to further improve the products year on year.
One of the key factors for DexShell is comfort. The best waterproof sock is no good if people don’t wear it because it’s too bulky or uncomfortable after all. The feedback we have received suggests that riders appreciate the efforts DexShell has made here and many choose to wear our socks even on dry days because they feel ‘just like a premium sock’ on their feet. This comfort is something we are all very proud of and it keeps consumers coming back for more year after year. Due to the use of a Porelle membrane, the garments also offer other advantages such as protection against insect bites, for example.
We’ve seen a considerable cycling boom as a result of COVID-19. How has that affected DexShell, both positively and negatively?
Like the entire industry, we have seen both positives and negatives in the last few months. One of the main positives for DexShell is that manufacture of its products is all in-house so we were far less impacted than many by supply issues and we have full control over our inventory. Globally, DexShell has seen a small slow-down, as you may expect, in sales this year but not to the level that we may have feared at the start of the various lockdowns. People are certainly still buying the products.
Of course, here in the UK, early lockdown was accompanied by glorious weather which didn’t help sales of waterproof products but as normal British weather has since resumed and we saw business as usual return ahead of what we anticipate as a busy autumn and winter period. More people cycling can only be a good thing for all of us. For DexShell, we are particularly excited about the new to cycling market as people are encouraged to cycle more. New cyclists and new cycle commuters may not be aware that waterproof socks are ‘a thing’ but once tried, they tend to become very loyal customers. The perfect accessory add on for new e-bike and commuter sales perhaps?
Troll Outdoors became DexShell’s trade distribution partner back in March. How did this come to pass, and what makes it a good fit for both sides?
Troll and DexShell have worked together in various ways for many years and with the previous distributor ceasing commercial operations at the start of the year, it seemed the logical next step to develop this existing relationship. The Troll team know the product very well and are as equally committed to excellent customer service as DexShell. The Troll team use the products themselves and share the same vision as DexShell for the UK market, so it was a good match.
What innovations in the industry are exciting you at the moment?
Seeing more people ride bikes, particularly commuters, is the most exciting thing of all but in terms of a particular trend or innovation, we are watching the gravel market develop very closely. As a global brand, some of the key markets for DexShell are those in North America where of course gravel riding has a massive following and has done for some time. It is interesting to see how this is now catching on across the world at varying rates, with the UK certainly developing its own scene at a rapid pace.
Do we foresee a gravel-specific range? No. Our current product range is fully encompassing and speaking from the top of my head, I have no idea what a ‘gravel-specific sock’ would look like or offer over the rest of our range, to be honest. DexShell is not a brand which repackages current product just to be on-trend. It is very much a customer and product-driven company, so any new product is either an improvement or redesign for real benefit to the customer.
What are DexShell’s plans for 2021 and beyond?
Troll and DexShell will work closely together to help our retail partners in the UK grow by supporting them as much as we can. We understand that there are other waterproof accessory options out there and so we very much appreciate and value our working relationship with existing and new DexShell retailers alike.
In terms of the brand, DexShell will continue its global growth and will also be looking to simplify the range slightly to make stock-ins easier for retailers and further aid consumer understanding of the many product benefits. There is also a substantial commitment to further reducing the environmental impact of the company by continually reassessing packaging materials and production methods. This has already started with 2020 seeing considerable progress and this will be a focus of the company ongoing through the future.