The end of the year is in sight. But has it been a first-rate 2009 or one to forget? Jonathon Harker and Mark Sutton ask the cycle industry what they made of it all...

INDUSTRY OPINIONS: How was 2009 for you?

“The main highlight and lowlight of recent times has come from the weakness in the pound. On the one hand this has assisted us to be increasingly competitive; our prices have only risen by around three per cent, as opposed to the 20-plus figure that non-UK made brands have tacked on to retail prices.

“On the flipside, the weakness of the pound has also been detrimental to our gross margins. It has really hit profitability hard. Historically, the exchange rate has only seen gradual shifts. Having it fluctuate so wildly has meant re-evaluating prices and stock levels on a much more regular basis. Before now, there has only been one year in our history where prices have shifted more than once per annum.”

“Looking back over 2009, here at CTC – the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation – we’ve had an amazing year. We reached record membership levels, as the highest level of cycling for almost two decades was recorded. Sixty-three thousand cyclists are now part of the CTC family, making us the UK’s largest ever cycling organisation – and we are still growing.”

“Highlights for Zyro during 2009 were securing the Dahon distribution and winning the BikeBiz P&A Distributor of the Year Award. These both validate our belief that we provide the very best service to both our retail and supply partners in the UK cycle industry.”

“A lowlight of 2009 was the Government’s car scrappage scheme – a disastrous knee-jerk reaction to the recession, which ignored congestion and climate change, and made no attempt to enhance people’s travel choices.”

“This year has just flown by. Despite the economic ‘brown stuff’ grenade that exploded all over the place, hitting several fans and creating more creeks for paddle-less canoes than the OS could ever map, we all seem to have made it through.

“The year has been challenging and not in traditional ways, but in completely new ways. The rapid pace at which the pound weakened created issues we have never had to face before as a management team. There was no history to look back on and no way of knowing how it would affect customers, products and performance.

“There were times when it was like driving at night, at speed, with no lights. It was scary, but we have come through all that and now, if anything, we have a heightened sense of awareness and focus. We are closer to the business than ever before. We have always been very self critical as a business, but now we beat ourselves up even more than we used to, yet above all we are now truly excited about the future we have ahead of us. What a year!”

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