The news that Paligap was to take on Marin’s distribution in the UK surprised many late last year.
BikeBiz talks to brand manager Simon Beatson about how both Paligap and Marin owners Minestone are investing in the label ready for a market share challenge in 2014 and beyond…
BikeBiz: How did the Marin distribution deal come about?
Paligap: Marin has invested heavily in recent years to develop the brand and wanted to see that investment pay off with greater visibility and exposure to the retailer and consumer. ATB Sales has been a great partner for years and the work they put in is known to all. Ultimately though, Marin wanted a full representation of the range available in the UK and an increased dealer network. To achieve this they tentatively looked into UK distributors and, after a chance conversation, it turned out we had a mutual connection. More conversations were had, a fact-finding trip took place, a lot of soul searching was done and then a deal was struck. Paligap’s history of building brands was a key factor in the decision, plus our history with Kona, which saw that brand have more success than ever before in the UK. Both Marin and Paligap have big growth plans so the fit is natural.
It seems the investment in the business is starting to be seen with new staff at Marin and new tech on the bikes – how significant has the fresh funding been for the brand?
Hugely. The increase has allowed a lot of new design and development work that is starting to really show through on the full suspension models and high end hard-tails. The investment has allowed Marin to focus on getting the new bikes to be the best performing they can be, plus offering significant improvements in value. It has also allowed them to invest in far more in marketing and getting the brand re-established as a market leader.
What areas is the brand exploring for 2014?
Enduro and trail is a big area that is being focused on. This sector is growing rapidly and reflecting the type of real world riding that most of us get out there and do. With all new designs in the 140mm and 160mm travel bikes we feel that we are perfectly placed to capitalise on this growing area. Trail centres are getting busier and the trails are being developed more for this type of riding, plus the UK Enduro race scene is selling out faster than anything else. We will be looking at having supported riders in this category for 2014.
27.5 is also the new hot ticket for full suspension, but Marin have offerings in all wheels sizes in the hard-tail range.
What’s on offer for the female cyclist from Marin? Has a lump of the investment been channeled toward developing this sector?
Definitely. The Mount Vision WFG is an all-new ground-up design that takes all the technology from the full Mount Vision range, but tailors it specifically to women. The women’s market is still growing and we will continue to see the range and innovation expand to match this.
Marin is arguably best known for its off-road product, but there’s a good selection of road bikes – will you carry a bit of everything?
Marin has a fantastic heritage when it comes to MTBs but the hybrid and urban bikes have been huge sellers for many years. This will definitely continue and expand. The new Fairfax SC6 with Alfine hub gears, dynamo hub and lights, hydraulic disc brakes and mudguards is a sign of things to come but hybrids at all prices are there too. Road is not what Marin are best known for but Paligap will be bringing in the range to introduce it to the public. It helps complete the story on the shop floor and allows dealers to have a quality road bike without adding another brand to the store. To start with the aluminium bikes will be coming in and we will expand this into 2015.
Have you taken over warranty and servicing?
All warranty, tech and service is now covered by Paligap. One thing Marin was very keen to stress is the continuation of excellent service and warranty for the dealer and consumer. To that end we have set up an automated warranty procedure found at www.paligap.cc, plus people can also call or e-mail.
Why should the dealer choose Marin over some strong competition on the market?
So many riders and dealers have been exposed to the Marin name. The quality of the bikes should inspire confidence. While not at the sheer volumes of the big three, it is an excellent world-renowned brand with strong new designs, a great story to tell and excellent value. For any shop looking to add a quality top-end range of bikes, Marin fits into that remit perfectly.
Our selective retail distribution strategy prevents over-saturation of the brand, as is now the case with some of our competitors.
How competitive a margin can you offer?
Our margins are very competitive with dealer packages to suit all volume requirements.
What marketing plans are in place for 2014?
Marin are investing hugely in 2014 marketing, both US and globally. We are adding to that with plenty of on-line and in-print adverts. We are also co-sponsoring the UK Gravity Enduro Series, plus doing dealer demo days to get people onto the bikes to see what all the fuss is about. Testing in the press is also a big focus. So far the new designs have been very well received with a What MTB Best In Test for the Attack Trail, plus the coveted Winner spot for the new Mount Vision in the November issue.
Any demo days or events where dealers can see/try the product this year?
We are doing dealer supported demo days for this year. Most shops have their own local trails that their customers can really test the bikes on. We are also offering individual demo bikes that can be sent to authorised Marin stores for customers wanting to try a specific model. For this we charge a small service fee to keep them in tip-top shape.
Any final thoughts?
The new investment and staff in the US is really going to boost the brand and take it back to its rightful place at the top of the tree. We will be backing that up with our usual great service and promotion. If you think 2014 is looking good then 2015 is set to be another big leap with even more innovation across the whole range. We will be showcasing that in June/July this year at venues across the UK.