Following a win at the inaugural West Oxfordshire Business Awards, Oxford Products received a congratulatory letter from Oxford’s local MP, a certain David Cameron. So why all the praise for the company, which works in the cycle and motorcycle trade?
Growth has certainly played its part. So impressive has its recent successes been that the firm has had to buy up land next door and secure planning permission for a vastly larger base. In fact, Oxford Products’ current 45,000 square foot distribution facility in Witney, Oxfordshire will double in size between now and November.
“The last 12 months have been incredibly busy on all fronts,” Oxford’s Henry Fletcher tells BikeBiz. “Our business grew by 17.5 per cent in 2011. Sales have grown strongly since 2006, from £7.6m to £18.3m in 2011.
“Cycle makes up 13 per cent of our turnover and grew by a spectacular 48 per cent. Even better, profits remained in line with turnover to support this growth.
“Over the last two months, our product team has been working furiously. As a result, our cycle product range has improved dramatically and nearly every single item has been re-sourced and re-packaged in modern, slick and also environmentally conscious corporate packaging.
“Cycling is our biggest area for growth and is receiving the appropriate investment. In the UK, we’re working hard with our wholesale partners to push the brand into as many stores as possible.”
The company, which also serves the motorcycle industry, has been increasingly tailoring its offering to cycle retailers due to that growth, BikeBiz learns.
Fletcher says: “Most of our recent work has been focused on getting the product and its presentation right. Since the acquisition of Sprint CPA we have had a vast product range which needed re-sourcing, re-packaging and presenting in an easy-to-use brochure. To put how busy we have been into context, we are about to launch our third brochure in 18 months… it will be yet another big leap forward for us.
“We have also developed a huge range of shop display equipment which will go hand-in-hand with the newly packaged product range to make our products sell themselves.
“We’ve got fresh brochures, a fresh range, fresh displays… we have effectively created a new cycle accessory company, but with all the experience of the last thirty nine years in business. Yes, we celebrate our 40th anniversary next year.”
Have any product areas or ranges been key to Oxford’s successes, asks BikeBiz?
“With everything undergoing such a high growth rate, it’s sometimes hard to pick out the stars,” muses Fletcher. “Our biggest areas of growth have been in lighting products and helmets. Sales of both have at least doubled in the past year, due to better products and smarter packaging. However, we are still seeing significant growth in our more established ranges, such as locks and luggage, and our new range of pumps is literally selling itself.”
New product ranges in the works include a new sub-range of products for BMX, called “DarXide”. With distinctive grungy packaging and a more restrained use of the Oxford logo, the various pedal, grips, tyres and parts are proving popular with the firm’s customers.
Looking ahead, Fletcher forsees investment in product and people. “Our priority is to capitalise on the tremendous product range we have made available and to place it in as many stores as possible. Our warehouse is bursting with stock; so much so that we will be doubling its size by the end of the year. Meanwhile, we continue to plough investment into product development, our Continual Improvement Programme, which ensures that our service matches our products, and in excellent new people who will add weight to the company’s forward momentum.”
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Oxford Products across the pond
Oxford Products has taken the jump over the Atlantic and opened a US facility in Jacksonville, Florida.
Oxford has previously seen its products distributed in the States by third parties with varying degrees of success, it admits, hence the creation of a wholly owned subsidiary in the US. Headed up by Eric and Karen McFarlane, stalwarts of the motorcycle industry, the couple will be quitting Scotland for the venture. Karen McFarlane said: “It’s a huge challenge and we simply cannot wait to get cracking stateside. Leaving home in Scotland won’t be without its wrenches, but we’re ready for a new challenge and Oxford’s support and enthusiasm has been immense.”