Chris Frappell, Tru Tension

Bristol-based bike parts manufacturer reports 250% growth in online sales to US

Tru Tension has reported a 250% growth in online sales in the last year to the US.

The Bristol-based bike parts manufacturer, which was featured on Dragon’s Den in 2018, expects to generate sales of £20 million over the next five years.

Tru Tension was established by Chris Frappell in 2015 at age 23 after a lifelong passion for cycling and biking led him to develop the idea for the Chain Monkey – a chain tension tool that bolts onto a chain and induces an arc into the chain giving cyclists the movement they need.

Since 2016, the company has received support from the Department for International Trade (DIT), including grants to participate in overseas trade shows and has attended workshops focused on how to get into the US market. These events helped the business to establish important relationships, and now exporting accounts for 25% of Tru Tension’s total sales after growth of 250% in online sales in the last year to the US.

While the company’s exports slowed during the pandemic, its online export sales have more than trebled over the last year which has maintained the company’s growth.

“DIT has supported us hugely during our export journey to the US,” said Chris Frappell, founder of Tru Tension. “They provided us with a couple of grants to help us get the brand going in the US. Without these, there would be no chance we’d be in the position we are now. If you’ve got questions about export it’s very easy to pick up the phone to DIT and get the information you need.

“Export as quickly as possible. Domestic is great, but the international market is the slower burning but a potentially more profitable side of the business. You can get big orders a few times a year with international trade which can really help your company grow.”

Tru Tension’s international expansion has also secured deals with retailers in France, Germany, Scandinavia, and Greece.

The company’s growth in the US market came as research emerged that during the COVID-19 pandemic, cycling in the US and across the world increased significantly due to more time spent outside. According to the Rails-to-Trails conservancy, ridership on trails in the US increased three-fold in 2020 from the same period the year before.

Research by People for Bikes found that one in ten American adults reported having ridden a bike for the first time in a year (or longer) since the onset of COVID-19.

Paul Shand, head of trade for DIT in the South West, said: “Tru Tension’s success in the US demonstrates the strong demand for high-quality UK goods overseas, and it’s great to see them thriving and helping consumers over the world connect with nature during a challenging time.

“Trade will play an important role in getting our economy back on track and Wildlife World is a great example of how companies can look to lucrative overseas markets to boost their sales whilst creating more jobs.”

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