Winds of change: The industry is ever-changing and more on its toes than ever, so how is distributor Windwave shielding itself and its customers from price fluctuations and more? Dan Jones and Peter Nisbet talk to Mark Sutton about dumping duties, backup service and brand additions...

INTERVIEW: Windwave distribution

How can dealers benefit from doing business with Windwave?
Windwave has always been about strong technical brands such as Marzocchi, FSA and Colnago. As well as the ‘headline’ brands, Windwave also offers a range of high turnover, big margin supporting products such as Ice Toolz and A2Z.

Will you be attending any further shows this year?
As a founding member of the Core Bike group, the show and its dealer format are our top priorities. In addition, we will again be at the London Cycle show, Mountain Mayhem and Bike Radar Live.

How has performance fared in the past year? What factors have contributed to any rises/falls in fortune?
Our main threat is from currency changes. For example, Colnago, FSA and Marzocchi are all bought in euros and with the pounds’ weakness it has enforced price rises. However, with keen retail price pointing we’ve continued in growth.

To what extent does Windwave get involved with sponsorship and how does this benefit business?
Windwave has always been involved with up-and-coming riders and has historically sponsored riders such as Steve Peat, Jason McRoy, Rob Warner and Chris Smith. This year we have kept our sponsorship channels with our component brands, but we’re also on board with the Pendragon/Colnago Premier Calendar team. This is an important move for Windwave as it places it at the forefront of the UK race scene.

If anti-dumping duties on Far East imports end up being abolished in July, how will it affect Windwave’s business?

The concern would be that prices of bicycles would fall. But prices do not need to fall, as in many cases bicycles are already too cheap. From a personal perspective, my concern is that cheap bikes mean at some point in the manufacturing process there may have been exploitation and poor working conditions.

Our focus is on brands and image and I believe we offer value for money. The reality is, unless we buy cheaper, we cannot reduce prices. We cater for the mid-to-upper end of the market; in this sector the public do not buy on price alone –they buy branded products for quality, proven performance and value for money.

How has Tenneco’s takeover of Marzocchi improved your suspension business? Has this reassured dealers that Marzocchi’s on form again?
Two years ago the automotive giant Tenneco bought Marzocchi; the fruits of the takeover are now being seen in the cycle division. It’s no secret Marzocchi had a tough time in 2008. However, Tenneco’s management and quality control has seen warranty cases drop to just 16 for 2009 and so far no reported cases for 2010 in both AM and OEM. Do any of our competitors have similar figures?

It was hugely encouraging that the dealer reaction was so positive at Core. We now have some great products that are easy to understand and, most importantly, that dealers feel comfortable with.

Tell us about your suspension service centre…
We have been the official UK service centre since we took on Marzocchi back in ‘95 and Windwave has a solid service team with lots of experience. We also have trade servicing rates, so we can offer dealers the complete servicing solution for their own workshop.

Since its arrival, how has FSA’s Vision components performed? Is there demand for high-end, technical components at these price points?

FSA is a fantastic company to work with as it is very professional and really gets behind all its brands. Vision was an acquisition and now there is a lot of focus on taking this brand forwards. It is high-end, so the product is fantastic. We’ve seen sales grow due to this brand by 50 per cent in the last year.

The Pendragon/Le col/Colnago team will use the alloy and carbon wheels this season.

How does Windwave tackle online discounters – are IBDs protected against these?
Working with dealers both online and in-store are the same – an open and friendly relationship is the key to a good working practice.

The only issues Windwave has with discounting are generally related to the grey market which, for successful brands, is always a problem. However, with products becoming more traceable this is fast becoming less of an issue as grey sources from OEMs can be stopped.

Describe what A2Z can offer the dealer looking for small parts, tools and braking components backup:
With A2Z Windwave can offer one of the most comprehensive disc pad ranges with a great margin, to boot.

To supplement these we offer a range of disc brake adaptors, olives, banjos and brake hose – these are multi brand use so no matter what, A2Z will have the solution.

We have also expanded A2Z’s range to include anodised QR skewers, head-set spacers, chain ring and bottle cage bolts. More or less every part is available in many different colours, which makes for great additional sales as consumers look to customise their bikes.

What marketing plans do you have for your brands in the year ahead? You seemed to be pushing Lucozade a fair bit at Core?
Lucozade is an important new brand for us, and Core was an ideal opportunity for dealers to sample the complete range ahead of the early spring push and to meet staff from Lucozade.

Our main marketing push for 2010 is to be direct with the consumer via more internet viral campaigns. We’ve also had great take up on Colnago demo bikes, something that is supported with an online advertising campaign directing consumers directly to the store for demo rides.

Lucozade must have been a big scoop for Windwave – how did this distribution deal come about?
This is a long story. I had the idea that Lucozade Sport was perfect for the cycle trade, but not available to retailers. So, I put a marketing plan together and approached the parent company, Glaxo Smith Kline. The hardest part of this though, was contacting the relevant person within this multi-billion pound goliath. It took several attempts, but by the time I met up with the right person it was soon evident that we would be able to work together to maximise the potential of the brand to cyclists.

Do you think the brand name will give Lucozade a kick start in the cycle trade?
Yes. Lucozade is a household name and this counts for a lot as it is one of the strongest names in FMCG.

There has been a long-term association with sport since the early sponsorship deal with Daley Thomson, though I believe that branching deep into the cycle trade can be very successful, because riders who are not sure about which sports nutrition brand to buy, will choose Lucozade Sport because they are familiar with the name and have confidence that the product will be safe and effective.

You have just hooked-up with Traitor Cycles – is this in response to high demand for styled fixies in the UK, or is this for something else entirely?
Traitor came about after seeing the brand at Eurobike last year. Although tucked away on a small booth, its style and attention to detail really stood out over the sea of euro machines. After all the technical complexities of Corsair’s suspension designs and Colnago’s multi directional carbon race frames, for us it is really nice to be involved with just a bike company – and I say that with the greatest respect.

Traitor has a great range of machines with fantastic attention to detail. It offers not only fixie or single-speed bikes, but also three-speed hubs, STI and disc brake models.

Response from the trade at Core was tremendous and we are getting a lot of interest from the public. The first stock arrives in May.

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