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 Mike Catlin, commercial director and owner, Chicken CycleKit
We were fortunate to have another fantastic year in 2021. Demand was incredible for our ranges of bikes especially, but we saw strong growth across all our brands. Like our peers, growth was limited by some supply chain issues but we worked our hardest to make as much stock available as we could. We are pleased to say that 2021 will end as the most successful year in the company’s history, and this is thanks to the hard work of our team and support of our customers.
We had our first full proper season with Basso bikes and this could not have been more successful. We have set up a countrywide network of IBDs in a very short space of time, and our customers’ only complaint from this made in Italy brand has been that we could not supply as many as they needed. Stock will be better for next season, and we expect our dealers to have an amazing 2022 with the range.
We also started our partnership with DMT shoes this season and the reception from our customers has been incredible. The unique 3D knit technology in their shoes combined with the sponsorship of Tadej Pogacar has given our customers fantastic product to talk about, and their customers have seen the brand win the Tour de France twice now so it’s in great demand.
We began working with Wera Tools only a few weeks ago and this has been a fascinating experience. It’s a brand that has such a passionate group of followers in the industry that we sold out of some SKUs on day one. Premium, adored and quality and obsession you won’t have seen in a tool brand. It’s worth checking out the range if you haven’t already.
Behind the scenes
Our focus this year has been expanding the team here at Chicken CycleKit HQ. We now have nearly 50 people across the business and we have been very particular in finding the right people to deliver the high standards our customers expect. Every department has seen an expansion in people, and this has been crucial in managing the growth of the business to cope with increased demand.
We have also been focusing on making our B2B even better and this has no doubt made our customers lives easier. We have also partnered exclusively with DPD recently as we know they offer the best logistics to our customers and speed and reliability of service is key for them.
The Campagnolo Service Centre has seen additional investment to make sure this important brand in our portfolio is given the best support to the IBD and their customers. So many major bike brands are now fitting Campagnolo to their bikes it is important our IBDs think about training through us also.
A post-Covid world
We see the industry remaining at higher levels than pre-Covid. Many people have discovered e-bikes and made them a regular alternative to getting onto public transport or into the car. We think a general movement towards health and exercise is now habitual for a lot of people, and we see cycling being an important part of this. We are very hopeful that the industry has continued strong years ahead.
We have always supported the IBD and it will always be part of our strategy. Basso was a great example of how much we need a strong IBD network, and this is true of so many of our brands. We have a lot of world brands that are premium products and need an expert to support the end-user. Our investment in more sales and marketing people to support these dealers I think shows how important the network is to us.
2022 and beyond
We will continue to bring new people into the business with new starters joining us in week 1, January. We are a ‘never satisfied’ group of people that keep growing the business and our brands at an aggressive rate. We have a new brand that will launch at the end of January that we are very excited about, and we have so much more work to do on the exciting brands we have in our portfolio.
All data points to the e-bike market growing strongly in the UK and we will continue to expand our range of Superior/Rock Machine e-bikes to take advantage of this exciting segment.
It will be a busy year for the CCK team.
Read more distributor round-ups:
Paul Elliot, director, Bob Elliot & Co
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