As we begin the new year, BikeBiz catches up with five UK distributors to gauge their progress throughout 2019. Today, we hear from Simon Ford, sales director, Extra UK.
How did 2019, in general, fare for Extra UK?
We completed our financial year at the end of October and are delighted to once again grow the business. Given the turbulent and changing marketplace it’s a very pleasing result. I’m now really looking forward to 2020; like 2019 I feel that it’s going to be a very intense year, full of challenges as retail evolves.
What brands have you gained/lost, and what were the reasons behind these changes?
We added two brands in 2019, firstly FFWD Wheels in March and then ABUS in April. We are fortunate to be offered brands on a weekly basis, however, our strategy has always been to only add brands where we as a distributor can add value.
We had a gap in our portfolio for a higher-end wheel brand and FFWD was the perfect fit. The previous FFWD retailer network was underdeveloped so we knew with good product, marketing and a great team at FFWD we’d be able to build the brand.
With ABUS, for years we had an obvious gap in our portfolio for locks and helmets and each year we’d research those markets. We loved how ABUS was developing its helmet range and noticed how every year it got better and better. ABUS having two of our missing categories made it a perfect potential partner. We are thrilled to be working with ABUS, it is an amazing partner who inspires us. Its knowledge, passion, commitment and business ethics are outstanding, as is its product!
Brands aside, have there been any major developments throughout the year?
We invested in people, strengthening and restructuring our entire team. We have a great team with a huge amount of trade experience as well as some youth to bring about new ideas, it’s a healthy creative mix that keeps us all on our toes. We also refurbished our offices to improve the work environment. We’re not quite done; we are planning further investment for 2020 which will better the customer service experience, better communication and better interaction.
To what extent are you supporting IBDs, and how has this evolved throughout 2019?
Our largest cost is servicing the IBD network and we are not looking to change that, the IBDs are the heart of the cycle trade. In 2019 we added IBD exclusive product from brands like Topeak and fi’zi:k, we are increasing this for 2020. As well as product, we create exclusive promotions for the IBDs. An area we are currently developing is free marketing support for IBDs where we produce and distribute assets that IBDs can use to promote their businesses and in turn our product, it’s a very exciting project for us and very creative. We’ve always had a very fair approach to our customers in that no matter what a customer’s size, they can access a fair deal without having to buy huge quantities of stock, if they stock a brand we will do our best to support them with the right deal.
What are your plans for 2020 and beyond?
To continue to better and build our team, listen to our customers, consider and develop new ideas, drop old-fashioned ones, accept, adapt and evolve with the marketplace. To add value to every brand we distribute. After many years of good service, our B2B gets a major overhaul so seeing that go live will be exciting, we hope it greatly improves our customer journey. We never stop trying to improve.
Matt Ryley, director, Upgrade Bikes: “We will be taking the product to the consumer more and more; more shows, more dealer demos, more dealer test rides”
Chris Giles, director, The Cycle Division: “2020 is the start of a new decade and should be littered with opportunities for the cycle trade to grow”
Mike Catlin, commercial director, Chicken CycleKit: “A focus on Campagnolo, Deda Elementi and Prologo will see some major opportunities for our dealer network in 2020”
Paul Elliot, director, Bob Elliot: “We have seen a seismic movement into workshop/service over the last couple of years and we have tailored our offerings to suit”