How did the Insync brand start?
SV: As part of Hero Cycles’ strategy to grow in the UK and Europe, we wanted to create a master brand that would bring together our four sub-brands. Insync was launched in May 2018 with a range of 75 new bikes designed by our new team operating from our £2 million Hero Cycles Global Design Centre in Manchester.
The second part of our strategy, which is important, is a long-term plan to move towards an omnichannel approach in the UK and a direct-to-consumer model in Europe. For that reason, it was critical that we consolidated our brands into one master brand while maintaining the individuality of each of the brands. That’s how we’re different to the other traditional players that have been in our industry for a long time. With Insync being a new brand, it’s much easier for us to look at a direct-to-consumer approach when we look at non-UK markets. We have a logistics plan – warehouses in Europe and an online sales platform launched in partnership with The Hut Group. We’ve traditionally worked with a lot of retailers and we don’t want that to change. In fact, we’d like to strengthen our approach to retailers. So in the UK, consumers will still have that option.
How long have plans been in place? What sets the sub-brands apart from previous offerings?
SV: We started with our plans in January 2017 when we opened our new design centre. Our bikes have been very well designed, in consultation with professionals like Shanaze Reade, resulting in products that can compete with the best in Europe. We’ve also taken advice from other riders and through extensive consumer consultation on what they would expect from a bike, which has resulted in many of the design choices. From our perspective, this is an approach that keeps us ahead of the curve. We’re constantly engaging with the consumers that ride our bikes and the retailers that sell them, often with surprising results. Some of the aspects that seemed small and minimal to us had the biggest impact for our consumers.
These are not products that have been designed behind closed doors, but with inputs from what consumers and experts have told us.
Give us a rundown of the four sub-brands.
SR: Insync as a Masterbrand has the four brands – Viking, Riddick, Ryedale and DeNovo. Viking, which has been around for 110 years, is geared towards men for road and urban cycling. With the design process, Hero has attempted to take the brand back to its past glory of the 1950s and 1960s, when it produced one of the best racing teams of the time. The designs of that era are still relevant today. The modern Viking still embodies the legendary design and continues to use the best quality steel like the Reynolds 725.
Ryedale, for women, is stylish and classical. The colour palette used for these bikes reflect the current global trend, and an extensive research on current colour trends is continually being done at the design centre. The bike offers the upright riding position, women riders tend to prefer in an urban setting.
Riddick is the All Terrain/Mountain bike offering from Insync. The bikes are very capable and offer a very relaxed riding style for the everyday rider.
DeNovo is the Junior and kids offering. These are designed with child-specific geometry. The frames are light and safe, and we’ve worked with physiotherapists to ensure young riders have the correct posture when they’re on the saddle.
What do the new brands offer that their competitors perhaps do not?
SR: The Insync brands offer a really compelling price range without compromising on features or comfort. The bikes we’ve come up with have been designed with riders in mind and they have been fully involved in the process, which has resulted in a look and feel that is ahead of other bikes on the market.
What does the future hold for Insync and its sub-brands?
SV: In nine to 12 months’ time, we want to have rolled out our direct-to-consumer offering across Europe and would want to see Insync as a 100 million brand in the next four years. For Hero, Insync is a very serious attempt to leverage the home markets and also expand to produce a high-value brand that will spearhead entry into eastern markets, like Japan and Korea. This is a very exciting time for Hero and Insync and personally, I am thrilled to be part of it.