Jacob Heilbron, Kona chairman, told Bicycle Retailer magazine – http://www.bicycleretailer.com – that the decision to split with Second Level Sport, their UK distributor for 12 years, is a way of ramping up sales:
"The number one reason for the changes is to increase the number of bikes we sell in the United Kingdom. We believe it will have a positive affect for the independent dealers. The exposure through these additional stores will build greater brand awareness with mainstream customers, and more people will be walking into the IBDs asking for Kona. Halfords is big and does a lot of advertising and promotions—much more than we could do on our own."
Of course, this is the exact same argument used by Caratti’s Mark Edwards when he took GT into Halfords (and then hoofed it to Monaco on the proceeds of his sale to Schwinn/GT).
And he probably has a point. The brand was not selling well and mainstream exposoure for what was not Halfords chief brand target may be a good thing for IBD stockists.
Some IBDs are thinking positively: Kona is not a Marin, a Trek or a Cannondale. Those brands continue to rebuff Halfords, they say. And those brands can’t afford to cheese off the independent sector; with such low UK sales Kona Europe clearly believes it had little to lose by jumping into bed with Bikehut.