2021 has undoubtedly been an unorthodox year, with independents, brands and distributors alike feeling the inevitable effects of a turbulent period for businesses the world over. BikeBiz catches up with several distributors to reflect on a bizarre yet successful period for the cycling industry.
Today, we hear from Paul Elliot, director, Bob Elliot & Co
2021 sprung new and exciting challenges our way once more after the boom of 2020. It has been a strong year once more with demand still very high. It hasn’t come without its firefighting with regards to supply, increased costs and adjustments with Brexit changes but once more we are pleased with the business that has been done with our customers.
It has been extremely difficult to introduce new, unknown brands to the market this year mainly due to the lack of brand interaction at exhibitions and factory visits.
However, we were recently delighted to bring KOM Cycling into the range which is a brand primarily focused on indoor/outdoor training equipment and tubeless solutions. Initial sales and feedback are extremely strong and we look forward to establishing a new long term relationship with KOM moving into 2022 and beyond.
We have experienced other changes and developments within our current ranges as well of course. We have rolled through many new products from our established brands such as Schwalbe, Continental, Zéfal and Clarks. We have also expanded our own-brand KranX range through 2021 with the introduction of mudguards, propstands and home workstands to name a few.
Behind the scenes
We have recently taken on additional premises to help us cope with the higher demand the business is facing. The new building is currently being decked out with offices and racking to allow our wheel-production facility to flourish further. Not only that, we have also added more office space to our current building and continued to grow the number of staff in sales and warehousing.
A post-Covid world
We expect a strong industry post-Covid. Not to the levels of 2020 but higher than 2019 and previous. Infrastructure improvements are taking place in many settings around the UK but also and importantly, people’s mindsets are changing with regards to travel and commuting.
Whether this be working towards a better way of life for the environment or a change of habit to avoid public transport/continued improvement to welfare – it all points in a positive direction.
We will have bumps along the way with increased costs, supply and freight times but over time these should smooth themselves out and things should become more stable.
We have continued to work very closely with IBDs during Covid and we have evolved this by offering more and more partnership deals with them, especially in workshop areas. We model our business on supplying the best solutions for the IBD and those decisions tend to work well for online as a result as well.
We have continued to push our sales representatives into stores where the shop is happy to see them, and when it has been safe to do so and will continue to do this as we move forwards. We have also installed an internal account manager for areas that are difficult to service with a sales representative so there is always somebody on hand to assist where needed.
2022 and beyond
Our plans are for continued overall growth – whether this be by achieving stronger availability or supporting more customers. We are looking to offer more stability to customers with ongoing supply and quick deliveries and wish to work closely with all of our partners to bring up to date products to the market as quickly as we can to support an ever-changing industry.
Read more distributor round-ups:
Peter Nisbet, Windwave MD
Rob Haycock, CEO, ZyroFisher
Lee Kidger, managing director, Raleigh UK
Dominic Langan, CEO, Madison and Sportline
Andrew Walker, commercial director, Moore Large
Lea Adams, CEO, Greyville Enterprises
Simon Ford, sales director, Extra UK