INTERVIEW: Windwave - BikeBiz

INTERVIEW: Windwave

Hampshire-based Windwave has prided itself on bringing cutting-edge cycling brands to the trade since the firm was founded in the ‘80s. After almost a year with Corsair BikeBiz caught up with MD Peter Nisbet about past glories and tackling a testing economic climate. Jonathon Harker asks the questions...
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Firstly, how was Core? How important is it to get face-to-face with dealers?
Core Bike was fantastic for all exhibitors. The show had increased footfall and the dealers were all very upbeat. We were expecting a bit of ‘doom and gloom’ but it really wasn’t there. We came back from Northampton with plenty of orders and have been really busy ever since.

It is very important for us to meet the variety of dealers at this show. It gives us the opportunity to show partners and prospectives our range in greater depth. And nothing beats a meeting in person to cement existing relationships – and potentially create new ones. The social side of the show is also really important. It is good for everyone to meet and socialise informally in such a lovely, accessible venue.

A lot of other distributors feel the need to put on individual shows – is that something you’d consider in future? Or do you think there are too many bike shows?

Unless you are a big company it is often not possible to draw dealers to a house show. That’s why we got involved with the original Core concept. We would not consider a Windwave house show. I believe the Core Bike Show has the biggest
attendance of any bicycle trade show in the UK.

What have been the biggest challenges Windwave has faced over the past year?
The economy has been a challenge for everyone. But we have found sales have held up very well and we have seen significant growth from Colnago, FSA, Nokon, Ice Toolz and A2Z. Cycling has not been as badly affected as other industries. The biggest challenge has been maintaining margin for dealers and ourselves with the rapidly declining value of sterling.

And how has the past year been in general for Windwave?
In general we can’t complain. Everybody at Windwave has worked really hard this year to maintain the forward momentum of the company.

How is business year-on-year?
We are focusing on growing existing brands and are always looking for new brands to expand sales. The introduction of the Corsair frame brand will give us some more growth.

Is it tough for distributors to balance price hikes and give a good deal for dealers?
For sure. We think long and hard about every price increase. We have always offered value for money solutions and want to continue to be able to do this as currency fluctuates further.

So how important is it to support dealers in this economic climate?
I like to think we always support the dealers as best we can. This year, our focus has been on demo days for both Colnago and Corsair, in the hope of drumming up further brand awareness and end-user sales.

Would Windwave ever consider expanding into own-brand products?

Anything is possible. An own brand is attractive because we would have complete control, but this type of project is very time consuming.

What is going to be the biggest story for Windwave in 2009?

Marzocchi now has a new owner –Tenneco –a multi billion dollar automotive company. They have very high standards and are investing heavily in the Marzocchi brand.

2009 is a steady year design-wise as the focus has been on quality improvement. 2010 will see some great new product, hopefully projecting Marzocchi back to the forefront of suspension fork technology.

Are there any signings in the pipeline for 2009?

We are actively seeking acquisitions, but have nothing to announce at this time.

What categories do you think will do well over the next year? Is Windwave going to target a particular sector?
With consumer cash being tight the market for upgrades is sure to expand. The cycle to work sector will grow, for sure, and with commuters beginning to spend more on quality bikes, this is certainly good news for the bicycle business.

Is there anything else you’d like to add, or say to the trade?
We definitely appreciate the support we’ve had and continue to have from our customers.

It is a difficult trading period, but smart businesses will become more efficient and be in a strong position ready for the ‘bounce’. I am sure there will be plentiful opportunities for us to expand the Windwave business over the coming months.

GOOD FOR RETAIL, GOOD FOR RIDERS…
Many manufacturers have played key roles in Windwave’s sales growth, including Nokon – the unique cable brand exclusively handled in the UK by the Hampshire-based distributor – but also with names like Vision, Mace, BLT, Axiom and Town.

One of the most significant of the past year has unarguably been the high-profile relationship with Corsair and freeride and dirt jump rider Chris Smith.

Peter Nisbet explained to BikeBiz how deals with high-profile names from the world of biking are important for brands: “Having Chris Smith on board is very exciting for us and we have worked with him for many years with Marzocchi. Chris is very professional and gets fantastic coverage.

“Within just a few weeks we are already seeing the benefit in print and on the internet. Going forward, Chris’s input will be hugely beneficial to enable us to fine-tune already great bikes and kit.”

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