In a highly competitive market, full to the brim with brands pushing the boundaries of innovation, service and sales, a number of individuals and companies have stood out in this year. BikeBiz reviews the trade’s favourites for 2008...

BikeBiz Awards 2008: The Winners!

Industry Achievement Award: Bob Chicken

At 87 years young, Bob Chicken is currently settled in Madeira, winding down from his days as an icon of the industry. Since the 1950s, the founder of RJ Chicken and Sons has dedicated his days to serving the bicycle trade, introducing many European road bike accessory brands into the UK.

Sports journalist Phil Liggett describes Bob Chicken as ‘a doyen of the bike industry’. And to celebrate his lifetime of service, Chicken was recently awarded an MBE, of which he said: “I am honoured to have received this award in recognition of my services to an industry that I have spent my life promoting and working in. It is a very special industry with some very special people. In a time when there are increasing fuel costs and increasing awareness of the need for individuals to exercise I feel that it is also a very exciting time for the cycling industry.”

Bob is a past president of the Pedal Club and the Pickwick Bicycle Club. He joined the Pickwick – the world’s oldest bicycle club – in 1954 and to this day is the longest serving member.

Consumer Website: BikeRadar

It may seem like it has been online forever, but the Consumer Website of the Year – – was launched only in July 2007. Now regarded as one of the industry’s top sources of consumer cycling information and race news, the website received some 8.9 million page views and 909,000 unique hits during September alone.

Editor, Jeff Jones said of the award: “The BikeRadar team is delighted to have won the BikeBiz Award for best consumer website. We feel that it’s a genuine recognition of the quality of our site from the UK industry. We’ve only been going a little over a year, but in that time we’ve almost reached one million unique users per month – well beyond our expectations. We’re looking forward to building on this in 2009.”

The website is popular among cyclo-tourists who take full advantage of the ‘Routes and Riding’ section where viewers can post their own track information. Like, BikeRadar also attracts attention to the website via a hugely popular forum.

Future Publishing is also the publishers of Mountain Biking UK, What Mountain Bike, Cycling Plus, Pro Cycling and website Cycling News.

Shown above accepting the award at Cycle ‘08 on behalf of the BikeRadar team is Future’s commercial director James Poole.

Marketing Team: Sustrans

Sustrans’ is covering more ground than any other organisation within cycling. Having scooped £50 million for the development of cycling in the UK late last year, the charity captured the minds of countless ITV viewers to scoop the cash in The People’s Millions.

To emphasise just how strong Sustrans’ marketing team is, the figures from that phone-in show alone make a strong case. Of the 286,285 votes cast, 119,348 of those were for Sustrans’ Connect2 project.

The organisation also runs Bike It, TravelSmart, Safe Routes To Schools and many more projects. Bike It tackles cycling to school. From just four cycling officers working with ten schools each to get kids cycling four years ago, today there are 25 officers covering 250 schools nationwide, as well as supervisors.

To top it all off, the organisation is even on social networking super-site Facebook.

Melissa Henry, marketing director for Sustrans, said: “The marketing team is delighted to receive this award on behalf of everyone at Sustrans. Securing a public vote to win £50 million from the Big Lottery Fund to enable millions of people to walk and cycle more in 79 communities UK-wide was the culmination of a great collective effort, not just by colleagues, but all those in the cycling community who supported us. Our thanks to all those in the bike trade who continue to support Sustrans.”

Consumer Magazine: Rouleur

There are just ten issues of Rouleur in existence (to date) and at £9 per issue, it’s not a cheap print magazine either. But as BikeBiz’s Carlton Reid highlighted in a recent interview with editor Guy Andrews, the magazine is re-assuringly expensive.
As put by “Rouleur is for those who appreciate history, art and literature as much as cycling. This kind of focus could lead to self-parody or, worst of all, pretentiousness, but the single-minded dedication of the editor and contributors makes Rouleur majestic.”

The magazine reflects the drama and beauty of road-racing, so you’ll not find race results here. Content is made up of commentary and stunning photography.

“We are really honoured to win this, especially as it is voted for by the bike trade. They are a discerning bunch and probably harder to please than the readers, added to the fact that they are usually all enthusiasts too, so that’s fantastic,” said Andrews. “Why do I think we won? Well we know the content is the finest out there, as we spend a long time on the quality of the photography and writing. I’m sure that we have the best in the business working for us and our approach has always been creative and free spirited, to support the photographers and writers in doing what they want to do, rather than cramping their individual creativity with tight editorial control.”

Product Innovation: USE Exposure

USE’s Exposure light range has been winning awards left, right and centre in the consumer press since it came to market and recognition in the form of a trade award will further do the brand’s reputation justice.

What Mountain Bike said of the Joystick lights: “[It was] the overall winner of our group test. Offering the best combination of all our required elements was the Exposure Joystick.
“Easy to use, lightweight and with different mounting options, it gives a great combination of beam power and spread for its price point.”

Using the world’s leading LED technology, the new Seoul Emitters run brighter and more efficiently than the previously used Luxeon LEDs allowing Exposure Lights to provide the rider with previously unheard of brightness.

Rory Hitchens, MD at USE, said of the award: “We are thrilled to gain one of the first ever BikeBiz Industry Awards and as one of the leaders in cycling product design, to win the Innovation Award is fantastic. We have worked harder than ever to bring faster, lighter and brighter products to market in recent years. Our Exposure Lights range has been pushing new LED technology to the limit and customers have responded very positively to the ‘no messy cables’ package and the many features of our lights.

“In a high technology consumer product world we deliver high specification and high performance lights. I think it’s the sweeping success in the magazine reviews for the Joystick MaXx light in particular that helped USE be voted the winner of the innovation award. Thanks for all who voted for us.”

Sales Triumph: DMR

The DMR brand has long been a firm favourite on any dirt jumper’s wish list. There will be very few jump enthusiasts out there who will never have owned a DMR component. The manufacturer is behind such iconic products as the V12 pedals, which gained such a loyal following that many riders refuse to run other pedals.

Co-founder of DMR/UpgradeMatt Ryley, told BikeBiz: “We were extremely pleased just to have received nominations, but to be told that DMR, our own brand, had won an award for Best Sales Triumph 2008 really was the icing on the cake.

“Everyone here at DMR Bikes/Upgrade Distribution is over the moon. It is fantastic that all our hard work has been recognised by the judges and we would also like to say thank you to all our customers and to everyone who voted for us.
“Sales this year for DMR have been consistently higher than corresponding months last year, with September our busiest month ever. Realistically these sales figures are a result of all the hard work that has been put in over the past couple of years from rider feedback, design, warehousing, sales and marketing. We really wouldn’t be in this position without the talented and dedicated team that we have here at DMR/Upgrade. Now all we have to do is keep it up.”

Sales Team: Madison

Highly regarded in the cycle trade as one of the most efficient and trouble-free distributors to deal with, Madison’s sales team took a large percentage of the votes in this year’s awards.
The distributor, perhaps the UK’s largest, took the decision this year to exhibit a selection of brands at Cycle ‘08 and that’s on top of inviting its entire dealer base along to the in-house IceBike show.

Long-term Madison customer, Steve Barnett of Cycling On told BikeBiz: “The great thing about Madison is that you cannot see the joins between the departments, the organisation seems to operate as a unit. When you talk to anybody in the sales team – be they reps, customer care, warranty or telesales – you get the sense that they are talking and making commitments for the organisation as a whole and this is what makes dealing with Madison so easy. It is no surprise to me that the outward facing group of that organisation, the sales team, came out on top in this award.”

A delighted Bill Baxter, head of Madison’s sales team, accepted the award at Cycle ‘08, telling BikeBiz: “Madison’s B2B has been fundamental in the evolution of our field sales and internal sales teams. We believe the field sales team are truly account managers who are charged with ensuring that our customers’ experience of Madison is the best it can possibly be. Our aim is to add value with each customer visit or call.”

Manufacturer: Hope Technology

Hope originally began as an aerospace company, yet since 1990 the manufacturer has set its sights exclusively on producing cycle parts. Nearly all Hope product is made in the Yorkshire Dales, still led by engineers Simon Sharp and Ian Weatherill, who are both keen cyclists.

The Hope design team uses the latest computer aided Solidworks 3D CAD software to ensure each product is both manufactured to high standards and attractive on store shelves. All prototyping is done in-house, meaning testing and modifications can be conducted quickly and efficiently.
The company is expanding, too. Hope now has over 35 CNCs to machine components, its own heat-treatment equipment, automated polishing and an in-house anodising plant. A little-known fact about Hope is that, despite the company’s reputation as a master of braking, the first product made was actually a front hub.

“It’s fantastic to have received this award, escpecially as it’s one recognised by the industry – and we can now see our efforts to keep all our manufacturing in Britain gain the good press it deserves. The tide is turning as far as production goes in the UK, with regards to environmental issues as well as commercial. It’s encouraging to think that we are at the forefront of that. Investment in people, machines and technology means that we really are a cutting edge company, but still with old fashioned morals and values, and that makes for a great business combination. Thanks to BikeBiz, its readers and all those who voted.”

Distributor – Bikes: Hot Wheels

“We are delighted to have received the award for Distributor of the Year for bikes. Our company is a family-based business and that, we think, keeps us in tune with the majority of IBDs, while we now have the scale to be able to compete with the other major brands,” commented Hot Wheels’ MD, Russell Merry.

“Hot Wheels has a diverse portfolio of bike brands which, we believe, helps us offer bikes for every type of shop. Appointed Mongoose distributor in 1989, Hot Wheels now offers BMX bikes from Mongoose, GT and the specialist WeThePeople.”
GT’s ever strengthening line-up of adult bikes gave Hot Wheels a big opportunity to step forward when the company was appointed distributor in 2001. This was further bolstered by growing sales of GT across BMX, MTB, urban and road. Sales have now grown more than four-fold since its first year of distribution.

Hot Wheels now employs 32 staff. The graphics department has seen previous recognition from suppliers with awards for marketing efforts. As further testament to the distributor’s portfolio of bikes, the sales team is selling more than ever.
Merry added: “We will endeavour to improve our systems with the introduction of a B2B system soon and further developments to our customer relationship management software. We think that our blend of people and products are what has led to us receiving this award. We won’t get complacent because we know customers have a habit of voting with their feet. We would like to thank our customers for their business and the people who voted for us for doing so.”

Distributor – Parts and Accessories: Extra UK

A thoroughly deserved award for Extra, which has invested more than ever in the numerous component, accessory and tool brands under its portfolio. The distributor’s diverse range of brands offers dealers great coverage all from one source. Customers have access to brands such as Deity, Brooks, Selle Royal, Fi’zi:k, Topeak, Hutchinson and Montane, among others, all of which consistently score well in consumer press tests.

John Phillips at Extra told BikeBiz: “We really appreciate the support of the industry and are delighted to have won this award. Our thanks is extended to those who took the time to vote for us in this category and to our dealer base for its continued commitment.”
Extra’s Brian Stewart accepted the award on behalf of the team at Cycle ‘08.

Specialist Chain: Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative

As the name suggests, Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative opened as an independent retailer in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh. The stores are now instantly recognisable from the outside, thanks to the modern bright red décor. Inside the store, customers are treated to one of the widest and most diverse ranges of bicycles and accessories available north of the border.

Jeremy Miles, managing director at Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op commented: “Edinburgh Bicycle is, of course, delighted to receive this award from BikeBiz. As a specialist retailer, trying to deliver a consistent level of high quality products and services across multiple regions presents many challenges, not least in the current economic climate. At Edinburgh Bicycle we pride ourselves in our ability to deliver exceptionally high levels of customer service, as well as excellent choice and value for money. Promoting cycling from the grass roots upwards is part of our business mission and we achieve this through the commitment and drive of our people and their passion for the product we sell.”

According to the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative’s website, every full-time Edinburgh Bicycle worker becomes a co-op member, with an equal share in the business, after serving a one-year ‘apprenticeship’. There are now 75 co-op members – a record number. The company trusts that this staff involvement will manifest itself in the form of friendly, informed professional advice from staff members.

Independent Retailer: Condor Cycles

Condor celebrated 60 years in the business this year. When the first store opened in 1948 the majority of race bikes were bespoke. Condor’s business revolved around building custom bikes then – and that’s what the store has been doing ever since.

The store has consistently worked to serve the local cycling community, as well as forming a racing team, which has achieved wins on international podiums.

As a manufacturer of custom builds, Condor has close ties with the entire industry. The store built its reputation on the quality Italian-built frames that have become iconic worldwide on both the race scene and the roads. The store’s unique approach to retail has survived, despite the bespoke bicycle almost disappearing nationwide.

Grant Young, managing director of Condor accepted the award on his stand at Cycle ‘08, which for the most part was packed wall to wall with fans on both the trade and consumer days.

Online Retailer: Chain Reaction Cycles

In one of the most hotly contested categories Europe’s largest online bike store took the win, despite other candidates performing well – evidence of just how popular online retailing is today.

Known to all cyclists for its generous pricing, Chain Reaction is undoubtedly responsible for a large volume of first-time enthusiast purchases and the steady increase in attendance numbers at tracks and trails nationwide.

Michael Cowan at Chain Reaction Cycles told BikeBiz: “The team at Chain Reaction Cycles are really pleased to have won this award. We have worked really hard to become the best at what we do and there is no better accolade than getting recognition from the bike industry itself. Thank you.”

Non-Specialist Retailer: Halfords

Halfords was near enough unanimously voted the Non-Specialist Retailer of the Year. Many based their vote on Halfords’ charity efforts, including its campaign to support our servicemen. The chain raised money via its 430-plus UK outlets by sponsoring the Help for the Heroes Bike Ride, which took place in May. Others based their vote on experiences within the company’s BikeHut outlets.

Halfords’ PR manager, Louise Iles commented on the award: “As the UK’s largest bike and accessories retailer, Halfords is committed to investing in cycling and encouraging our customers to take to two wheels. So we are delighted to be recognised with this award.”

Halfords’ leisure sector, including cycling, has been continually growing despite poor summer weather.

David Wild, chief executive, who joined the business on August 4th, said: “In my short time with Halfords, I have been impressed by the calibre of the people and reassured by the strength and resilience of the business, which has proven to be robust.”

Halfords’ PR Manager Carla Lavender is pictured above accepting the award from the BikeBiz team at Cycle ‘08.

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