Raleigh directors dont return our phone calls, wont reply to our emails and we have to get Derby Cycle Corporation press releases forwarded to us from overseas trade magazines even though they originate from Nottingham!
Cest la vie. Reporting on sensitive issues such as Derbys critically poor credit rating is always going to be hard for Raleigh to read without hitting out.
But its not a blanket press ban, mags likely to give Raleigh a softer ride are still welcome at Triumph Road.
We know this because theres a biography of Steve Davey, Raleighs new sales and marketing director in this weeks issue of Marketing Week.
The magazine claims the bike market is growing by 14 percent a year and that Raleigh is brand leader with 17 percent of the market.
The Marketing Week reporter attended the recent Raleigh product launch at Eastwood Hall in Notts. She says Davey is neat and compact with a quiet air of understatement.
He is reported to want to make Raleigh into a brand with street cred, which isnt the marketing message put out just a few months ago by new marketing manager Alison Ostick. Then, it was Diamondback which was going to be the sexy brand.
At the reps product launch which BikeBiz attended in August Ostick said:
"Raleigh has been everything to everybody for too long.
"The brand has been stretched a long way for a long time. Times have moved on and so have consumers. With more competition than ever before and cycling becoming ever more extreme at the edges, the Raleigh name can’t stretch that far.
"I think people at Raleigh have known this deep down and when you expose them to the idea of making Raleigh a non-enthusiast brand only you often find that the idea has been in their minds all along.
"Kids who will have been bought Raleigh’s by their parents want to move on to other brands when they get to the age of 12 or 13. Kids are becoming brand-conscious at earlier and earlier ages. We don’t want to lose their business so exposing them to Diamondback and not Raleigh is the answer.
"It’s very hard to recognise that times are moving on but you’ve got to recogise the inevitable.
However, in Marketing Week Davey said: We want kids to say, Wow, I didnt know Raleigh made bikes like that, hey dad, I want one of those.
But it will be a challenging year. Marketing Week reports that MD Philip Darnton says theres a pervading sense of pessimism in the industry and that Raleigh needs to move on from worthy but dull bikes.
And Davey is quoted as admitting Raleigh has lost its way recently and left its customers behind.
Marketing Week didnt have to look far for a weve heard it all before comment:
Peter Hargroves of Hargroves Cycles in Southampton said:
Ive been coming to these events since 1981 and [Raleighs] track record is not very good. The problem? A total and utter lack of customer service and insight into what the customer wants. Well just have to wait and see.
But if Alan Finden-Crofts gets his way the recent restructuring of Derby will be the start of a revival for the corporation. In an official Derby press statement released from Nottingham but which BikeBiz had to get from a US source, Finden-Crofts is clearly out to stabilise the financial situation and rebuild morale at Derbys brands worldwide:
"There has been some bad publicity concerning the financial situation of the company, but I can assure everyone that the shareholders, directors and management are totally committed and confident of improving the profitability and success of the Group, and already action has been taken to reduce costs significantly and improve the efficiency of cash management."