BikeBiz editor Alex Ballinger travels up the M5 to the Midlands to visit historic lock brand Squire, and hear more about plans for the British manufacturer
This piece first appeared in the December edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
Consciously or unconsciously, we will have all come into contact with a Squire lock. Whether it’s a padlock on your shed or a D-lock securing a bike out in the wild, Squire is a name with a strong association with security. While the company dates back more than 200 years, founded in 1780 and handed down through eight generations of the Squire family, Squire’s first cycling products didn’t hit the market until the 1960s. To hear more about the past, present and future of Squire, I travelled from my home in Bristol to Squire HQ just outside of Wolverhampton.
The bike market
Squire’s pedigree is firmly in general security, particularly in its padlocks, but the brand has become a familiar name in the cycling and motorbike industry. Now Squire has plans to refocus on the cycling market, and is lined up to announce a selection of innovative products. Having already pioneered Bluetooth connected locks, and finding success with the popular and easily portable folding locks, Squire now has its eye fixed on the wearable lock market, with new products on the way in time for COREbike 2023 in February.
Neil Hudson, two-wheel brand development manager for Squire, said: “Obviously with the value of bikes going through the roof, and with the boom of the e-bike market, securing what you’ve got and putting off potential thieves is important.
“Having the knowledge of Sold Secure, to be able to educate your customers will help with sales of locks and it is an important product to have. It’s not the sexy product on the shop floor, but it is an important product. You don’t want to lose your bike no matter the value.
“So the best way of trying to avoid that is by protecting your bike at all costs with a new layer in your security. So trust in Squire, within the home as well as on the road, is the key to our marketing.”
Squire’s big new launches are the new Sold Secure-rated wearable lock range aimed at commuters, called the StrapLock range, but there will also be additions to the middle range products, including new D-Locks, and a selection of on-the-go products designed for cafe stops, like retractable cables, and a zip-tie-style of lock.
But Squire is also aware that the bike lock market is hugely competitive in the UK, with a number of well-known, home-grown brands occupying the same space. So what does Squire offer to retailers?
“Obviously ease of access to the product, stock is there,” said Hudson. “The margins will be more than comparable to the competitors in those products, and I believe that with some of the competitors in the wearable market, the access isn’t quite there, and the margins aren’t quite there for the dealers.
“From our side, to have a focal point in your shop dedicated to security massively improves sales. A lot of the dealers I visit have locks tucked in the corner, collecting dust. It’s a grudge purchase but trying to develop that sale at the point of a bicycle sale, and encouraging people to protect the bike they’ve got is key.”
Through its long history, Squire has maintained its family ethos, as the company is now run by owner and CEO John Squire, who I met during my visit to the Squire HQ. Alongside the family history, Squire is also firmly embedded in UK manufacturing, still producing a huge number (many finished by hand) on site.
After a brief introduction to the new Squire products, I was shown the production cycle of Squire’s flagship padlock products, and also put the finishing touches to my own lock, which sits on my desk as I type.
Alongside the manufacturing, Squire is deeply invested in testing its own products, in a workshop space lined with all manner of tools available to a would-be thief, and a slightly sorry-looking children’s bike that is subjected to the lock strength tests. Squire tests its products in-house, before sending them out for independent industry standard testing by Sold Secure.
Hudson said: “Squire have been lockmakers since 1780, so 240 years-plus now. They’ve made locks during the Napoleonic Wars, Crimean Wars, during the World Wars. ‘Toughness guaranteed’ is the tagline, and we pride ourselves on that. Our Premium range is made in the factory here in the UK, with a 10-year guarantee on every product. It’s a very dependable company with a great history, and we try and get that across in all the products that we sell, so you can trust Squire to do the job.”
In the UK, Squire is partnered with Cambridgeshire-based Ison Distribution, run by managing director Lloyd Townsend. Squire and Ison worked together at multiple shows this year, and are already drawing up plans for products at the 2023 COREbike, held at the regular venue Whittlebury Hall from 19th-21st February.
Hudson said: “[Ison are] like-minded in the way they run the business, and we’ve got a good history with them. They’re great to work with and there’s been a real upturn in Squire. We’ll be there [at COREbike] with Ison in their room. We will have all our new products ready to go, we’re working on some new point of sale displays, so we’re looking at showcasing our new products so customers can try them, and get hands on.”