BikeBiz catches up with Rory Hitchens, marketing and senior brand manager at Upgrade, UK distributor of P&A Brand of the Year winner Lezyne, to talk 2021’s successes and challenges, and what we can expect from the year ahead
This piece first appeared in the February edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
How was 2021 for Lezyne, what challenges and successes did you see?
Upgrade had another very strong year with Lezyne. Stronger accessory demand has been driven from a new customer audience due to increased bike sales plus the upward trend of e-bike sales. The established strength and visibility of the brand to dealers and consumers makes Lezyne the go-to choice for quality, affordable accessories.
Supply was not really a challenge for us in 2021. Upgrade stayed well on top of ordering and increased stock holding. This was aided by only mild lead time increases from Lezyne who also managed their supply chains well.
Upgrade’s revised field sales team injected new business and opened new accounts. Strong online dealer consumer demand during the pandemic coupled with Upgrade’s consistent supply and stock holding also fuelled the success in 2021. Lezyne continues as a very dependable and strong brand for our dealers.
What Lezyne products have been strongest over the last year?
Lezyne’s LED category has been very strong again this year and is a cornerstone of the brand for dealers. A stable product line meant dealers could order with confidence of delivery and concentrate on fulfilment with well-established models.
Stand out product sales came from front lights Mini Drive 400 and Lite Drive 1000, the rear Strip Drive 150 and light pairs in Femto USB and Micro Drive 600/KTV. Hand pumps have also had a strong year with the small Pocket Drive pumps selling very well. With enthusiast cyclists turning more to CO2, a small pump as backup is very much still needed. Multi tools also did well due to the introduction of a revised product range and features.
Lezyne won P&A Brand of the Year at the BikeBiz Awards 2021 – what did it mean to win?
It’s really fantastic to win this award and a great boost for our whole team at Upgrade and we thank BikeBiz and those that voted for us. It recognises the hard work put in by Lezyne in keeping their drive for innovation and commitment to quality “engineered design”.
Having won this award in the past when Upgrade was growing the brand, it’s great to be recognised again as number one P&A brand. Lezyne is an established brand, now in its 15th year and in a period when dealer confidence in delivery is key to business we have shown that Upgrade has the commitment needed.
What are your expectations for the year ahead, both for the business and the industry?
We are looking forward to introducing some new Lezyne products in new categories this year. Our emphasis will continue to be on quick supply and good stock holding for our dealers. Whilst we will see some mild price increases due to elevated import and cost prices, we are positive it can be another strong year for our dealers who stock Lezyne.
Upgrade will continue a strong marketing push to consumers, backed by increased digital marketing from Lezyne global penetrating social media in the UK. We feel that whilst there could be turbulent times ahead for bicycle sales as supply catches up with demand, strong accessory demand will remain and Lezyne will continue to be a key part of that business.