What has 2009 got in store for the cycle industry? And how did Christmas 2008 compare with previous years for retailers and distributors? Jonathon Harker puts the pertinent questions to the trade...

INDUSTRY OPINIONS: The cycle trade in 2009

“Christmas 2008 saw respectable growth in sales against last year. Commuting and road will be particularly strong categories in 2009.

I think 2009 has the potential for a further shake-down. Those who listen to their customers and reflect their wants and needs with an excellent range, exceptional customer service and offer great value will go from strength to strength.

Whilst there is certainly growth to be had with general concern about the economy, health and the environment, we must remember that we are currently in the foothills of a recession. No cycle retailer can be complacent and wait for the much-heralded increase in demand to arrive at their store.

Furthermore, customers in a recession want much better value and demand greater service from any retailer they choose to shop with. We must remember that for many, we must work harder than ever to encourage them to part with their hard-earned money. No one can afford to be complacent about any of their customers – existing or potential.”
Jeremy Miles, Managing Director, Edinburgh Bicycles

“White is the new black this year and I think we are going to have a stormer in ’09!”
Mark Gouldthorp, Managing Director, Raleigh

“It is very hard for a distributor to judge Christmas sales. We are a little detached from the timeline which reflects consumer spend at Christmas.

In like-for-like sales over a six-week period we were up 51 per cent on the same period last year. We have achieved this partly through our concerted effort to focus on communicating with our dealers and promoting our brands through the consumer press. That increase is partly down to the fact that we moved in the first week of January 2008.

No one knows what 2009 has prepared for us, but our view at 2pure is that it is a time for hard work, working closely with our customers and suppliers, gaining market share and being able to be flexible and move quickly. It is a volatile market and where we can add some stability to the supply chain we will.

In a lot of ways we are lucky that all of our brands are a long way from reaching market penetration – giving us an opportunity to continue to grow them. All of our brands are committed to the UK and we have also invested in great people to help us achieve our targeted growth over the next two years.

We expect more people to be riding their bikes this year. Maybe the high end spend will reduce, but people will be looking at inexpensive ways of staying fit and healthy, as well as entertaining themselves. At the end of the day hobbyists will want to spend money on their passion so although it might not be that expensive set of pedals, it is likely to be an accessory or item of clothing.

Commuting is bound to continue to grow which will help cycling overall and support dealers through a difficult time. This in turn will help the workshop side of a retailers business.

However, there is little point getting up in the morning all absorbed in the broken global economy. We will survive and most likely we will have to adapt too, but staying focused and serving customers with a smile will go a long way to the cycling industry not only surviving, but strengthening throughout 2009.

This is the time to be very aware of your business functions and what your cash and margins are looking like.”
George Bowie, Managing Director, 2pure

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