Winter wonderland: Are you signed up to IceBike*? You likely will be after hearing Madison’s Will Fripp make a solid case for heading to Milton Keynes next month. Mark Sutton asks the vital questions...

IceBike* 2010 preview

Madison has hinted to BikeBiz there may be yet another new brand on the way. Can you say any more at this stage?
Two key new brands so far have been announced – Pearl Izumi and Gore – and we are chuffed to bits to be distributing them.

Also new to IceBike* will be Shimano Clothing, a category within the Shimano portfolio, now aligned with Shimano-owned Pearl Izumi. We will really be stepping up a gear with this, so with Madison, Pearl Izumi, Thor, Shimano, Bell and Giro, Madison now has one of, if not the, most credible soft goods ranges on offer in the market and hence the recruitment of an entirely new sales force to cover these ranges alone.

There may also be another new brand for Madison and IceBike* but it’s still being thrashed out. It’s a very well known brand globally and will be a very cool addition. So, we are pretty sure we have one more surprise up our sleeves. We’ll also have new categories of products within our existing brands yet to be announced…

What are the main reasons a Madison customer should attend this year’s show?
Blimey – where do I start? Loads of reasons and I guess the primary one for me is less specific: it’s that our customers are guaranteed to have a good time, and more than pay for their day out of the business with everything we have laid on.

Our people put their hearts and souls (and a whole lot of cash) into IceBike* across the business – everyone is involved and has their place and duties for the show. We will, as always, make sure it’s a worthy day out for all dealers.

There will also be first showings of new brands like Gore and Pearl Izumi, as well as showings from a wealth of new products from many of our existing brands.

Stupidly good special offers will be available to dealers too. We beat up our suppliers for months to help us with deals that we then ourselves run a deal on to make some of our specials very special indeed.

Supplier insight and feedback is also a key reason to attend. We typically have around 60 of our suppliers at IceBike*. We discourage attendance of sales folk and instead request that companies send product and brand managers as they are so useful to our customer base. Even some of our suppliers’ CEOs like to attend, because they find the feedback useful.

As with every year previously, there will be a load of insightful seminars – not product based – but business-enhancing presentations that are thought-provoking and allow our dealers some interesting ideas and points of view on things they can do to make their businesses more profitable.

The social side is really important: we don’t have reps, we have account managers and you can access our products so easily now via B2B, fax, email and telesales. Madison likes to use IceBike* as the best yearly opportunity to have a chat, a beer, some great food and keep everyone entertained in style. Business is so much easier and more beneficial when there is a relationship that’s face-to-face.

That said, the show’s parties will be cool this year as they are open to all customers on both nights, with hotel accommodation available also. The second phase of the Saracen brand will be launched, with the addition of full suspension bikes, the Kili range and the new urban range. I can confirm that all have some stunning models.

Madison also invites (for free) a whole bunch of useful third-party companies to exhibit at IceBike*. These include Abacus, SiWis, the ACT, the ATG, Sustrans, PAF and new to the show this year will be Barclays Business systems.

Will there be any extra incentives, as in the past?
We will be running a few brand-specific competitions including ‘money can’t buy’ trips and all sorts. Lots of these are still being confirmed.

What about seminars: who is speaking this year?
The full listing and schedule is on the website. The Dennis Reid content is being confirmed, but Jay Townley is back once more. His presentations are always standing room only and we have only scraped the surface in terms of the insights that he can offer to the trade.

A year on from launching the Madison clothing range, how has the apparel brand performed and will you be expanding the line-up?
It’s flying. That’s the best word to describe it. It causes a world of heated discussions here as stock is always the issue. We say order big as stock control is cautious, then lo and behold we sell out of items beyond our wildest imagination in terms of volume. Madison has been marketing the range hard and it’s paying off.

We have loads of new product to show at IceBike* and are now so much more experienced from the last year and we are on top of stock. Dealers love the style, that we manage the clothing range, it’s available from stock with no huge sell-ins and the items have universal appeal. It’s a fantastically safe bet for dealers.

Will there be shuttle buses for those coming by rail?
Yes, we can sort transfers from booked hotels, local stations, Luton airport and it’s all bookable within the registration process, which is now very slick.

When’s the deadline for sign up and how is that going?

There’s no deadline to sign up by. Sign up is constant at the moment – shockingly strong. I monitor this carefully and we market it accordingly. To guarantee accommodation, which is very tight, the sooner the better as we have a finite amount of rooms available.

Why has the main tent has doubled in size?

We simply ran out of space to accommodate our stock. Additionally, we have had to allow space for Saracen, Pearl Izumi, Shimano Clothing, Gore and more, but also some of our brands required more space to do a better job. The layout is much better too. This main expo tent will be huge – taller than our main building, in fact. It’s all glass fronted, under-floor heated and all the catering will be upstairs this year.

What evening entertainment will be on offer to dealers staying over?
There will be open-house ‘parties’ with music, food, drink and good times. We plan to make it quite special. Of course, we will keep the karaoke as I think some folk would kill us if we took that away. One other change is that the party will stay open until 1am rather than midnight, with coaches from 10.30pm for those less inclined to party hard. Basically midnight always felt like it was a bit too early – the parties had just got started and then had to end. The food will be cracking as we are asking our caterer to do what he does best, from full hog roasts to bowl meals.

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