Madison, Hotlines and Chicken Cyclekit among those offering their thoughts on the year ahead

BICYCLE INDUSTRY PREDICTIONS FOR 2012: Distributors have their say

"It is hard to gauge what 2012 will be like. On one hand if we just look at our business and our industry then we feel quietly confident, but when you add the rest of the UK economy and then the global economy you start to feel more nervous. I believe the London 2012 Olympic games will have a positive impact on the country. I believe as a nation we will be proud of our staging of the games and I hope this will raise consumer confidence.

We enter 2012 with currencies once again looking unstable and for some product categories, such as bikes, there remains much greater inventory in warehouses than there is demand in the market and this will continue to have a negative impact on the retail value and perceived value of bicycles in the UK.

With various new retail businesses now entering the cycle market, others up for sale or preparing to float, and some I am sure are going through a challenging trading period, there is likely to be some change in the make up of the UK cycle market and an inevitable further blurring of the lines between retailer and supplier. All in all, it is going to be hard work, but it is certainly not going to be boring."
Dominic Langan, CEO, Madison

“It’s fair to say that in general the UK has been a little behind the rest of the world with the wholesale adoption of bigger wheels. However, 2012 will see a large amount of coverage of 29ers in the press and it’s likely that this is going to filter through to the public’s buying habits. It’s exciting as it will be the first major re-shuffle of the status quo for a long while. If the UK follows the trend set by the rest of the world then we could see some interesting shifts in the market between lower-end suspension bikes and mid-range 29er hardtails. Whatever happens, the future of the larger wheels in the UK should be fairly clear by the end of 2012. Hotlines are carrying 29er bikes and frames from no less than six brands, so regardless of the end user, we’ve a 29er designed specifically for them.

Concerns-wise, we’ve been lucky enough to ride out most of the turmoil in the broader economy over the past few years. While there are genuine issues within the global economy the happy fact is that people are still riding and buying bikes. The key issue is that both IBD and distribution network work together to ensure that consumers continue to spend on cycling.

With this in mind, Hotlines will be pushing as hard as ever on the marketing front with a focus on product tests and the biggest spend to date on advertising, sponsorship and demo events. We’ll also be rolling out a number of eye-catching point-of-sale incentives to draw customers into stores and facilitate sales throughout 2012.”
Martin Astley and Ed Ibbetson, Hotlines

“All things considered it [2011] hasn’t been a bad year. The trade has remained fairly upbeat in spite of a few lulls that it could have done without. Anybody big in clothing has probably had a bit of a nightmare with such weather variations.

Our advice to the trade has to be, rely on your distributor. Look carefully at what is on offer from their stock rather than making forward commitments. There is that amount of choice, you can always change brands. We have seen a strong demand for key brands and have substantially increased our investment in stock for 2012.

What is more difficult for the likes of most of us is keeping abreast of the never-ending launch of new products. What a wonderful business to be in. Continual innovation, ever better products – we are so fortunate as an industry. There is such a good-natured willingness in the trade to remain as resilient as ever. We have 2012 to look forward to with all the good things that will happen cycling-wise. There will be good growth, providing we up our service levels, offer more added value and make life as easy as we can for the end user. Running the business is getting more complicated, so replacing systems and upgrading software is an absolute necessity. Websites are playing a more and more important role and need to be refreshed and updated. There is more competition in all sectors, more pressure on margins. To successfully sell our bikes we have introduced far better terms for stockists, because, simply, we have to compete.

It is easier to be positive about 2012 than negative, in spite of what is going on outside the bike game. There is the London bike show at Excel for starters. This is really worth a visit. The Fixie market is here to stay, cyclo-cross riding is attracting a larger number of riders, there is another electronic group set and more new computers. Monolink seat post/saddles may be pointing to a new era in an increasingly hi-tech bike market. Given that wheels are arguably the most important part of a bike, it is no wonder that the market is awash with newcomers.

Then we have the Core Bike Show – the seventh if I am not wrong. How refreshing that our trade show has lasted so long. If you haven’t visited it, it’s really worthwhile, with a lot of extra new exhibitors at Whittlebury Hall.”
Cedric Chicken, director, Chicken Cyclekit

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