As we begin the new year, BikeBiz catches up with five UK distributors to gauge their progress throughout 2019. Today, we hear from Chris Giles, director, The Cycle Division.
How has 2019, in general, fared for The Cycle Division?
2019 has certainly presented its fair share of challenges. The weather hasn’t been great compared to previous years for a start. Subdued exchange rates mean imported goods cost more. The ‘B’ word causing uncertainty. Lots of issues to worry about. But sales are still up! So we’re happy. There have also been positive challenges too. Added demand for our wheel building due to the closure of Wilkinsons meant added investment there. Also, we’ve put added focus on alternative suppliers beyond our shores especially those with exclusive arrangements. This is largely due to current UK based importers and manufacturers focusing less on the benefits of supplying wholesalers.
What brands have you gained/lost, and what were the reasons behind these changes?
In 2018, we took on Elvedes. The Elvedes brand grew strongly this year with the addition of further lines to come. Elvedes fits perfectly with our deep-seated belief in the great work being done by the thousands of repair mechanics out there be it workshop based or mobile. The brand also fulfils our ambition to supply an alternative quality to our popular and reliable bread and butter products. Another brand which fits just this bill is Cyclon which we took on this year. Cyclon is an exceptionally high-quality range of oils, grease and cleaners similar to Motorex. Again, it sits perfectly with our other brands and is incredibly workshop friendly. Further developments have also come out of SunRace, with further commitment to their 1x range of products in the guise of more 12sp and SRAM compatible goodies.
Brands aside, have there been any major developments throughout the year?
Since the closure of Wilkinson Wheels, a number of suppliers to the IBD trade have taken on the building of their own wheels. We have been building all our own wheels (200+ SKUs) for many years now and decided the time was right to invest further in this area. We have added an extra ISL and Trueing Robot enabling extra capacity. A number of wholesalers have also asked us to build wheels for them which is great.
To what extent are you supporting IBDs, and how has this evolved throughout 2019?
IBDs are everything to us and I think it’s clear to everyone that the workshop of any IBD is more important now than it has ever been. We have a clear idea who the end-users of our products are. And these lovely people are the kind to frequent their local bicycle shop. If they take their bike into a shop with wobbly cranks they don’t ask for a specific brand of bottom bracket fitting. They won’t ask what the torque rating should be on the crank bolts. They want to pick up a working bike the following day and be happy to stump up £30-£40 to get their bike working again. We love these people and we’ll do anything we can to help the IBD trade to support them!
What are your plans for 2020 and beyond?
2020 is the start of a new decade and should be littered with opportunities for the cycle trade to grow. The new Roaring Twenties perhaps? The ‘B’ word should be behind us, it’s an Olympic year and people will still love getting outside and riding bicycles. We’re currently putting down the groundwork to distribute an exciting nutrition range with USPs superior to most of the common brands. We’re also keeping a close eye on developments governing ‘powered transporters’. Historically, the cycle trade has been well placed to embrace and exploit certain trends in the market. 2020 might yet throw up some surprises in this area and we want to be ready!
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”