Distributor round-up

Bob Elliot
Paul Elliot, director

How has 2018, in general, fared for Bob Elliot?
After a challenging start to 2018, business recovered well to see us have a strong year. Service and workshop areas have shown growth as we have continued to support the IBDs.

What brands have you gained/lost, and what are your thoughts/reasons behind these changes? 
We have added a few brands throughout 2018 to our range, most notable being ControlTech handlebars and stems, which arrived with us a few months ago. We have applied focus through this year on growing with our existing partners by expanding or tweaking ranges to help support customer-demand. One area that is fast-moving is our Alex Wheels, and ensuring we have further options available through road-disc areas and offering boost-options for our 2019 collection.

Brands aside, have there been any major developments for Bob Elliot throughout 2018?
We continued to show our support to the Cycle Show in 2018 by giving trade visitors the chance to see 2019 items for the first time and also continue to promote our brands to the public. 2018 has been a year where we have grown our brands. Our number of brands is at the highest level in our history, which covers more sectors and disciplines than ever before. We are working this way during challenging times in the trade to try and give our customers the very best options to suit their needs. We understand all shops have different requirements, whether it be with product-pricing (top or lower end products) or offering different types of products for developing sectors such as urban cycling or gravel.

To what extent are you supporting IBDs, and how has this changed throughout 2018?
We work closely with our sales representatives who work throughout the UK visiting shops, sometimes as regularly as every week. We receive feedback about market changes all the time and are often trying to support shops to meet these demands. This can be working on reduced carriage bands for the winter months or offering better, more specific seasonal deals on our products which we offer through our sales team. We have tailored our stock levels through 2018 to offer the shops more options and availability on service and workshop areas as we have seen this to be an area of growth, and have also offered some partnership deals to shops to allow them to access better pricing on particular brands.

What are your plans for 2019 and beyond?
Our forecast for 2019 looks like it will continue in the same vein to continue to grow areas that are in demand: service and workshop. Although, recent visits to exhibitions across the world have suggested soft-goods could be due for a resurgence so we will be adding to our ranges here to help support shops. 

Extra UK 
Stephen Hayes, head of marketing

How has 2018, in general, fared for Extra UK?
From a trading perspective 2018 it was a split in two. The start of the year was challenging as the bad weather took hold, however from the second quarter of the year we experienced much more positivity that became the trend for the rest of the year. The change in the weather helped as consumers enjoyed the fantastic summer. Our portfolio of brands within parts, accessories and nutrition gives us the ability to find various opportunities when times are challenging as well as when the sun shines.

What brands have you gained/lost, and what are your thoughts/reasons behind these changes?
2018 has seen new brands come into Extra to boost the portfolio. Firstly, Absolute Black came on board with their oval chainrings for the road, MTB and gravel markets. We have seen exciting growth in the brand from a standing start. Consumers are understanding the benefits of going oval to upgrade and improve performance, efficiency and comfort at the same time. Secondly, we introduced the lubricant brand Squirt that complements our offering in this category with a strong range of waxed lubes that stays clean, lasts longer and extends drivetrain life. Best of all they are 100 per cent biodegradable.

Brands aside, have there been any major developments for Extra throughout 2018?
Extra has developed significantly this year with the introduction of new members of staff that have grown the team with expertise in both sales and marketing. We have now a head of marketing, head of brands and we have boosted areas sales and key account manager positions. In addition to this we have moved into refurbished offices that expand the space we have available to grow further and house new meeting and display areas for brands and dealers to view and experience our products.

To what extent are you supporting IBDs, and how has this changed throughout 2018, if at all?
We are continuing to support IBDs through our team of dedicated area sales managers who are on hand to assist along with a support team in Wellingborough who help with account and technical queries. We also have plans to improve the B2B website with many more accessible features going forward. We have also developed our point of sale and product literature during 2018 to assist in the selling of our product in store. We have also invested in dedicated digital advertising linked to dealer locators to encourage consumers to visit their IBD. It goes without saying that the retail landscape in general is changing rapidly and this in turn affects the cycling industry. New concepts that can provide benefits to the consumer and the IBD are welcome. Today’s marketplace is more and more competitive so any new concept needs to stand out and communicate its advantages effectively in order to cut through.

What are your plans for 2019 and beyond?
We have further changes and developments planned for 2019 with further staff and brand additions to be announced soon. We are very proud of our brand portfolio but there are still areas where we can add value to the market whilst complementing what we already have. From a marketing perspective we now have the increased manpower to push the benefits of more of our products into numerous areas with traditional activity but also new ones too. 2019 is sure to be another exciting year for Extra UK.

Adam Glew, ecommerce and marketing manager

How has 2018, in general, fared for i-ride?
We have really concentrated on our core offerings and there have been some great successes this year, for example, our Northwave shoes rose by almost 20 per cent with a very strong collection, and so did sales of our Bkool trainers. We are specialists, most of our brand portfolio is of premium branded products, and so most of our core client dealers are also specialists and it is this complementary aspect that we have been communicating and supporting them with this year. Our focus has always been on service, so we have continued to prioritise this aspect of the business, and at the same time concentrating on supporting our dealers by encouraging them with activities such as bike fitting, which we believe is a vital tool for dealers to attract and maintain customers visiting their store.

What brands have you gained/lost, and what are your thoughts/reasons behind these changes?
This year we introduced some new niche brands like SeaSucker racks which have been very well received. They have some really cool, innovative products and it’s a range which complements our existing portfolio really well, as it’s technical and desirable, whilst our own ORRO brand which we develop in-house continues to experience strong growth. I am really proud of the work our guys here are doing on this as we approach the development in a very innovative and unique way, pulling on many of the leading technologies which we are very good at here in Britain, and concentrating on quality and performance.

Brands aside, have there been any major developments for i-ride throughout 2018?
During the first part of the year, our new B2B website was launched. This has been a major investment for us and a huge step-up in the modernisation of our service. We believe our new B2B is a state of the art, market-leading tool and will lead to us providing a better and more efficient service to our dealers. At the same time, during those difficult trading months, we took the opportunity to completely overhaul and modernise the business. We invested in a new team of brand specialists, our own direct employees out on the road visiting dealers with a different focus, which is now more about developing better business relationships, training on the product ranges and encouraging more of our dealers to come and visit us down here in Ditchling. We have also invested in more customer service staff. We really believe that the future for us is about providing increasingly higher levels of customer service and support, for example, if a dealer is considering investing in a range of Fulcrum wheels in-store over another brand, they should do so in the knowledge that they will be supported by a team of technical service staff they can call on easily in our service centre for the UK.

To what extent are you supporting IBDs, and how has this changed throughout 2018?
It’s key for dealers to stress their strengths for giving specialist advice and service to their customers – that is why customers will keep coming back. So we have stressed the importance of bike fitting and we arrange for our BikeFit guru, Paul Swift, to come over to the UK twice a year to give training down here at our offices in Ditchling. And we are fully aligned with our dealers in this respect, they are specialists and we are specialists, all our products are premium in nature. So commercially, we stress the strength of the portfolio through our elite programme, which has been specifically designed to support our dealers. In basic terms, the more products from our portfolio that a dealer stocks in-store, the more support we can give to our elite dealers through things like better margin, payments terms, marketing support etc. We also develop programmes to assist our elite dealers to have some high-value product in a range to be on display in their shop, which may otherwise be a large upfront investment, for their customers to actually see and feel and hence they are more likely to make a sale than lose that customer elsewhere.

What are your plans for 2019 and beyond?
For 2019 we have some exciting new brands coming in to expand the range of our portfolio which we will be announcing in January around the time of the Core show, plus also some exciting new developments with our ORRO range. We will also continue to invest in more modern processes and a move to new premises with dedicated training rooms and detailed one-on-one product presentations. However, much of next year will be about continuing with our fundamentals of trying to provide our best possible service and advice to support our dealers. 

Raleigh UK
Pippa Wibberley, managing director

How has 2018, in general, fared for Raleigh?
Our distribution business has been on an exciting journey this year so the story is super positive for us. The Raleigh UK team’s dedication to offering a ‘Best in Class’ service proposition has allowed us to offer an industry leading 9pm cut off for next day delivery and we have implemented a live chat service on our B2B so offer another level of support to our IBDs.

What brands have you gained/lost, and what are your thoughts/reasons behind these changes? 
One of the biggest brand wins for us was the exclusive distribution agreement we secured with The Saris Cycling Group, allowing us to distribute Saris, Cycleops and Powertap in the UK. Alongside The Saris Cycling Group, we also won exclusive distribution agreements with Bont and Supacaz. Agreements like this are really important for our business as it ensures we’re offering the UK’s IBD network the best brands on the market from one place, reinforcing our ‘one stop shop’ solution. We’ve also seen great growth with our in house XLC brand as it really delivers and works hard for the IBD. Not only does it offer an endless aftermarket sales opportunity, but as a lot of the parts are used on our bikes, it allows servicing and warranty queries to be easily resolved by replacing parts with like for like. The easy to install and manage meterage point of sale solution we offer has also been well received and allows a consistent display in store.

Brands aside, have there been any major developments for Raleigh throughout 2018?
2018 has been a continuation of our aim to lead the UK bicycle distribution market with great brands, excellent availability and the best service. We have achieved so much in such a short space of time! As previously mentioned our industry leading cut off for next day delivery puts us way ahead of the rest, and the work we have done both on a group and regional level to improve availability has paid dividends this year.

To what extent are you supporting IBDs, and how has this changed throughout 2018, if at all?
As a business, we constantly strive to make sure we offer a best in class service for our IBDs, ensuring their experience with us is as positive and efficient as possible. Our industry leading cut off times for next day delivery means that stores can order late into the evening and receive their order ready for the next trading day. We know many of our customers just don’t have the shop floor space or storage to keep a large amount of stock, ensuring they have total flexibility ordering from us makes life a lot easier for them. Our click and collect option on Raleigh.co.uk has been a proven success for our IBDs this year, with increased consumer footfall into stores and additional aftermarket sales as a result of the increased footfall. The combination of this with our partnership with the Caravan and Motorhome Club is making a real positive contribution to our retailer partners’ businesses. It is so good to get the feedback from them on the positive impact it is having. Our customers are seeing people walking through their door and spending money who would not ordinarily have shopped with them. That is what we have been pushing for so it is really great to see our hard work deliver. As a business, we’ve worked tirelessly throughout 2018 to increase availability across all ranges to further support the ‘one stop shop’ offering, and to ensure that what our IBD stores need to trade successfully, we can provide them.

What are your plans for 2019?
For 2019, we want to take the big wins we had in 2018 and further enhance them. For example, our B2B site will see new improved functionality to offer upgraded usability for our dealers. Our service proposition will continue to develop, keeping IBDs at the heart of what we do and ensuring we make the running of their stores as easy as possible. Enhancing both our product and brand portfolio to continue offering the best range for IBDs will remain a key priority for our P&A arm of the business.

Martin Hawyes, head of marketing

How has 2018, in general, fared for ZyroFisher?
Overall 2018 has been a successful time for ZyroFisher, we have implemented various initiatives both internally and externally that are coming to fruition for us now and we’re seeing positive signs from these strategies for both us and our dealer base. We are all aware it hasn’t been an easy year for the cycling industry. For ZyroFisher this means we have to constantly evolve in order to meet and then exceed the changing needs of our customers, but this has been done in a very considered way to ensure we deliver growth, both for the business and for our customers. We are all witnessing a pivotal time in retail and media consumption, and as shopper habits change we are always mindful of how we support our partners and our brands in the most comprehensive way possible. This isn’t easy, but we constantly evaluate what we’re doing and try to maintain a certain level of agility to ensure we deliver the best possible solutions.

What brands have you gained/lost, and what are your thoughts on those changes?
At ZyroFisher we are very fortunate to be partnered with the best brands, our portfolio is extremely strong and we are very lucky to be able to offer so many fantastic opportunities for our customers. But we don’t like to stand still, so as always there have been numerous additions to the portfolio in 2018 such as Evoc, GT85, NiteRider and WD-40 Bike. We regularly hear from brands that identify with our IBD centric mentality, which continues to resonate with all involved. We have replaced brands this year to ensure we continue to work with brands where our goals are aligned in supporting the IBD. We are constantly focused on the changing retail market dynamics. We have to be aligned with our brands to ensure we support IBDs and to help them remain relevant for years to come. We will continue to add exciting brands to our portfolio in 2019 which will make our proposition to IBDs even stronger.

To what extent are you supporting IBDs?
We believe our IBD support is second to none. We understand the fight is real out there and we have numerous support programmes, brand initiatives and platforms in place to equip dealers in the best possible way to remain on the high street. By example, we launched our Sram Platinum Partners several years ago now, and as a tool it has helped dealers negotiate against the loss of business purely on price. More recently, in 2018, we have launched a microsite programme to support brand stockists. With Evoc we have launched a microsite, a bike bag hire initiative and a digital support programme that then directs interested end users to their closest Evoc stocking IBD. This then allows them to hire a bike bag for their next cycling trip away. If you consider the marginal gains rule in terms of our support programmes, as these initiatives combine they’re providing more and more commercial benefit. Our OTIF’s are impressively high, our logistic arrangements for everyday ordering epitomise our commitment to the IBD with a 6pm order cut off and the ability to place your first order every day with ZyroFisher carriage paid regardless of value. If you need it and we have it, we’ll get it out to you.

What are your plans for 2019 and beyond?
We have some very exciting plans. A key thing that will be different next year will be the way we attend some of the larger events and the way we market our top tier brands for our stockists. You will start to see some of this very soon over the coming months. Beyond that, ZyroFisher has a very clear strategy that we remain on course with. We will continue to focus on delivering new opportunities and improving the level of ongoing support for our partners.

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