The Lyon Cycle team

Employee-owned: Catching up with distributor Lyon Cycle 

 BikeBiz catches up with Jordan Lunn, cycle market manager for Cumbria-based distributor Lyon

This piece first appeared in the April edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here


How have the last 12 months been for Lyon? 

It would be a lie to say the last 12 months haven’t been challenging, but that perhaps is no surprise. Interesting is perhaps a better and more positive way to describe it!  Ongoing supply chain problems and the global economy continue to be an issue within the industry. On a more positive

Lyon Cycle market manager Jordan Lunn

note, we have become a fully employee owned business (one of around 300 companies in the UK) which we are tremendously proud of. We have also added a key new brand – Industry Nine.

We have been performing better than we had expected given the general state of the industry, which we largely put down to our brand positioning, dealer positioning, and work that the whole sales and marketing team have been putting in, from brand through to dealer.

What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for 2023? 

Without trying to sound like a cliché, the challenges we end up facing often become great opportunities. Working closely with retailers to ensure we can help support them through the next period is essential. This is both a challenge but also a great opportunity. We are acutely aware that dealers are carrying a lot of stock and that some have cashflow issues. Where some businesses have been less accommodating, we have tried to help them navigate these hurdles where possible. It’s with this mindset that has seen our retail partners want to work closer with us.

We are also in the somewhat unique position as a distributor that we aren’t sitting on an overwhelming amount of stock, meaning we can actively move forwards with selling the right product to our retail partners that they need and want and not just the product we need to shift through with heavy discounts. So, while we may not be pushing the latest and greatest discount, we are helping to ensure the brands we work with retain their premium nature for the seasons to come.

As we move further into 2023 the general costs of business are still likely to rise. This combined with the ongoing battle for shelf space will make 2023 perhaps our most challenging year to date.

What new brands have you added to the portfolio, and what opportunities do they present?

Within the last year we have added one of the finest component brands within cycling, Industry Nine. In addition, in the past two years we have also become the sales agent for Canada’s premium cycle clothing brand, 7mesh. 

Lyon Cycle HQ in Tebay

Over the past number of years Lyon Cycle has become synonymous with the gravel and adventure categories since the rise of drop-bar and large-tyre bikes. The brands that we range, across our different company divisions, enabled us to become the one stop shop for any adventure on two wheels. If you need a sleeping mat, stove and a bike bag to put it in, there is a good chance we have exactly what you need. While retaining this affiliation with gravel and adventure is crucial to us as a business, diversification outside of these areas has become a high priority for us over the past two years, especially now that we recognise that other brands are trying to compete in our area of expertise.

Following an internal restructure and additional resources, we can now confidently and authentically offer expertise within a larger range of disciplines, including mountain and road. This hasn’t only enabled us to take on a wider range of brands but has also given us the opportunity to talk to new dealers that may not have paid much interest in our portfolio previously. It’s also interesting how many of these dealers are now interested in our more gravel and adventure-focused product offering.

We are now in a position where we have a very complimentary and cohesive portfolio, aimed at the more premium end of the market, with service to match.

How have dealers been reacting in the current climate? 

While most dealers are in a very similar position due to market conditions, we are seeing very different reactions. Some retailers seem to be reducing spending and battening down the hatches, others are committing to new brands and being opportunistic with certain discounted product. We think this can be largely put down to how some stores have built their ‘rainy day’ funds through the pandemic, while others haven’t been able to so easily. If shops have capital it seems to be getting selectively invested into the stock they think will bring the best return. We think it’s important to not cut spend on exciting and new products entirely as this will help increase footfall and customer return rates. Reduced spend on stock can sometimes be a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to reduced sales turnover.

The current climate also includes some brands and distributors showing little flexibility with smaller dealers which can be devastating for the longevity of some retailers. We are proud to believe in supporting the IBD network we have in the UK, especially following the past two years of what can only be described as being somewhat chaotic. As an industry we owe a huge amount to the UK’s cycle shops and as a distributor it is our duty to support them, as they do us.

What are the upcoming plans for Lyon?   

2023 is a big year for Lyon. Back in 1973 Ben Lyon founded Lyon Equipment to sell his handmade caving ladders, so this year marks our 50th year in business. Clearly the company has grown and expanded somewhat since then – although we do still hand make specialist ladders – and a plethora of other work at height and rescue equipment in-house. As such, we will be celebrating our anniversary and employee-owned status in the coming months.

Read more: A long way to go – Women in the bike industry share their experiences

Aside from birthday celebrations, we have a very simple outlook for the year ahead. Do the basics well, ensuring we are adding value to the brands and dealers we work with and focus on high quality customer service. Be that with sales support, marketing, or service and warranty. 

Further to that? Watch this space. 

In other news...

Pinarello nears sale to billionaire Ivan Glasenberg, according to reports

Italian bike brand Pinarello could be sold to billionaire Ivan Glasenberg, according to reports. The …