2020 was undoubtedly an unorthodox year, with independents, brands and distributors alike feeling the inevitable effects of a turbulent period for businesses the world over. BikeBiz caught up with seven UK distributors to reflect on a bizarre yet successful period for the cycling industry.
Today, we hear from Darren Mabbott, managing director at Silverfish UK
2020 has been a crazy ride. At the start of the year, nobody could have predicted how things were going to unfold and the massive ups and downs we’ve experienced since March.
After those crazy first few weeks, we saw demand and sales grow significantly. With so many returning and new riders, demand for bikes and some key components went off the scale. We’ve had to work really hard to keep up with that demand and solve the many logistical challenges.
It has been challenging as the sales trend continued through the summer and into autumn but we’ve navigated through it and thanks to all that hard work, we’ve had a commercially successful year.
In September, we were very pleased to partner with Peaty’s to distribute its bike cleaners, sealant and accessories. For me, it feels like a homecoming having supported Steve from the very early days. But it was much more than an emotional decision as we felt there was a great business fit between Silverfish and Peaty’s, as well as sharing its ethos, we were incredibly impressed by the quality of Peaty’s range – its user-focused approach and the attention to detail put into creating each product is incredible.
Behind the scenes
This year, we’ve continued to invest in our B2B website to keep pace with the increased demands from traffic and for functionality, and introduced further warehouse technology resulting in efficiency improvements that directly benefit customers. Silverfish continues with its ongoing drive to be as environmentally careful as possible and we’ve made progress with recycling and energy consumption initiatives.
Finally, we welcomed Dawn Adams as our company sales manager. New team members always bring a new dynamic and the potential for development and change, so watch this space!
We’ve moved mountains to ensure we have supported our customers through the year. Whilst our sales reps have been out and about, there have been limits on face-to-face visits, so increasingly we have been supporting retail via video, phone and email.
Our teams have been working exceptionally hard to provide the great back-up IBDs expect from Silverfish. A good example of how the world has changed is the massive increase in the use of our website Live Chat – retailers have found this an efficient way to answer customer queries in real-time.
2021 and beyond
Forecasting demand and managing supply in 2021 will be harder than usual after such an upsurge and the economic uncertainty from the pandemic and Brexit. We’ve made some big purchasing commitments for 2021 so are confident we’ll have great levels of current stock available this winter and next year, although we are seeing lots of pre/back-orders being made by our customers.
We are, however, working hard with suppliers who we know are moving mountains to ensure replenishment capacity is available, but we’ll be watching this very closely.
We continue our ongoing focus on managing our environmental impact and general efficiency, however, for 2021, our main focus will be on keeping our business and people safe from the virus itself and potential economic fallout.
It could be another commercially good year for Silverfish, but it’s anybody’s guess so we need to remain alert, continue to be agile and work in close partnership with colleagues and customers.