Citing the importance of protecting the independent bike dealer, Suarez UK agent Paul Wignell talks to Mark Sutton about the retail world and how he feels the Colombian clothing label’s approach is the right one for the trade’s future…
BikeBiz: You’ve placed emphasis on going through independents only – why is this important to Suarez in the UK?
Paul Wignell, Suarez: At present bricks and mortar retail is in a very delicate place and there are many reasons why. One culprit is internet discounting, not only in the cycle industry, but on a whole. That’s why Suarez clothing has made it clear our clothing is available to bricks and mortar stores with an online presence only. This gives the independent an exclusive product that’s not going to be dragged into the online discount culture and protects Suarez from brand dilution.
In essence we want consumers to go into one of our Suarez stockist, try on the product and pay for it in-store rather than clicking on their smart phone looking for the best deal, then walking out and ordering it online.
So no online sales at all, or will independent be able to list products online?
It’s good business to have an online presence in this competitive world, you can’t get away from that, but it’s how that front-end online shop is managed and what retail principles are set. Suarez encourages our stockist to showcase our product through their online shop, but keep within our retail guidelines. I know some IBD’s and cycle distribution companies will turn their nose up at that, but I’m not worried about them. We want our Suarez dealers to believe in who we are and what we are looking to do and that’s drive footfall through their door with an exclusive product.
Will we see the Suarez label at any events or races this year?
Outside Europe we are at many events with our UCI Team EPM-UNE, Professional Teams 4-72, GW-Shimano, Cafe De Colombia and Colombia National Cycling Squad. You will also see Suarez at races and events this year in the UK.
Included in these appearances, Suarez will be supporting dealers at their organised events and sportives.
And perhaps a race team sporting Suarez goods on the UK circuit?
Our main focus for the next 18 months will be building up our dealer base, supporting them and their own teams. However, we’ve talked about a Suarez race team in the UK. One thing we are keen to explore is the talented up and coming riders that fit in with our ‘Under the Radar’ riders format.
Tell us about the garments and the technical fabrics used throughout?
Our garments sit alongside the high-end brands on technology, style and feel, but at the fraction of the price. Suarez Clothing is about comfort, performance and managing moisture. In Colombia you can be at sea level with burning heat, then a couple of hours into your ride you’re riding below the snowline.
Suarez product’s (men’s and women’s) come in a relaxed fit, so you don’t have to be a stripped down Italian racing pigeon to wear them. Our clothing endorsees are UCI riders, Olympic riders like Team Sky rider Uran Uran, The Colombia National Cycling Team and world famous Cafe De Colombia Team.
Are there garments to suit all budgets, or is this strictly performance gear?
All our garments are designed with the latest technology, moisture management, compression system and performance in-mind. Like I said earlier, they come in the relaxed fit, meaning they’re not as restrictive as the Italian or Swiss brands, but give you that performance and confidence of a high-end race brand.
You can pick up the performance bib short and short sleeve Jersey for under £100.
And the manufacturing processes have some eco-credentials?
Suarez is proud to hold the GA+P award. This means we can validate its manufacturing practices, making cleaner production, preventing water soil, and air pollution and reducing emissions, including waste pollution. This improves quality control and assurance standards throughout our clothing production process and not many companies can say that.
You mentioned consumer press advertising – what marketing is in place to support the label going forwards?
You’ll find us in most of the major cycling magazines this year, for example Cycling Plus, the Official Giro D’ Italia programme and the Tour De France official programme. We’ll be distributing product to various reputed testing sites too.
Enquire about an account:
If you like what you’ve read and you’re after an exclusive mid/high-end brand without the price tag, drop Suarez UK a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Paul Wignell on 07545593413.