Mondraker UK country manager Richie Rowland talks to Rebecca Morley about new strategies, market differences and industry innovations
Mondraker started in 2001 in Alicante – and since then has seen its bikes make history on the race circuit and pick up multiple awards and accolades in the global media. And with its success in operating a dealer direct strategy across mainland Europe, the Spanish brand is now extending that programme to the UK.
“It was a decision with a number of drivers,” says UK country manager Richie Rowland, “but most significant was the success we have enjoyed through the same strategy in other European territories.
“We witnessed our dealer direct strategy bring us closer to our customers, build stronger working relationships, nurture growth and allow us more flexibility and manoeuvrability to best serve those dealers who we are in partnership with. Additionally, there are obvious financial advantages which have been key in being competitive in the UK market.”
Rowland says the reaction from dealers has been “really great”, admitting to being a little apprehensive as to the reception the move would receive.
“After Mondraker enjoyed so many years with a leading UK distributor, it’s only reasonable to expect that some dealers could have a little nervousness but I’ve been really pleased to discover that’s not been the case at all. They have all embraced the move with enthusiasm and eagerness to be part of the brand’s future, something I will always be grateful for.”
Since the decision was announced, Mondraker has made further appointments to its UK team. Pete Drew has joined as UK marketing manager, bringing with him knowledge of the UK market and media landscape, having worked with a number of high-profile brands throughout the past 15 years. Carey O’Callaghan has also joined the Mondraker UK team as South East sales manager, bringing considerable cycling industry experience to the sales team. These appointments further cement Mondraker’s commitment to the UK dealer network, the brand said.
But how does the UK market differ from others around Europe? “There are obvious similarities but there are equally obvious differences,” says Rowland. “The most significant difference for me is just how advanced the UK consumers are in their spending trends, appetite for market research and buying preferences. As a nation, we were early adopters of online shopping and still remain one of the more online savvy nations, certainly far more so than some of our mainland European counterparts.
“However, in total, ironic juxtaposition is that we, as an industry, are incredibly good at offering a truly enjoyable and professional retail experience in-store. When you visit a lot of stores you realise that some of our UK IBDs are global market leaders in creating a friendly, inviting retail environment.”
Setting new standards
Earlier this year, Mondraker introduced MIND, a fully integrated telemetry device for mountain bikes. After more than three years of development, the brand’s Foxy Carbon and Crafty Carbon will incorporate the discrete hardware which makes up the MIND system, offering riders the possibility to set up their suspension with the help of the myMondraker app.
MIND is made up of four wireless components. The main hardware unit is hidden inside the steerer tube and includes the front sensor which in turn reads the strength of the magnetic field given out by the magnet placed on the top of the fork legs. At the back of the bike, there’s a small sensor fixed to the top linkage of the Zero suspension system which works in conjunction with a magnet fixed to the main pivot point. These two sensors working together send all the information to the myMondraker app once a ride is finished.
“Our integrated suspension telemetry system MIND is pretty exciting,” says Rowland. “To have access to so much data and features in such a simple, intuitive way without any aftermarket purchase is truly unique. I believe that, like our Forward Geometry before it, MIND will set a new standard that will be followed by the rest of the industry.
“Also – and I’ll admit this isn’t really innovation, but it is exciting – I’m convinced that thanks to folks like Tom Pidcock and Evie Richards, as well as the Olympics, we’re about to see a resurgence in XC racing. I enjoy riding every discipline of mountain biking but as someone who first fell in love with XC racing as a fresh-faced youth in 1991, I find the idea of a renewed interest in it and the potential to captivate a new generation of young riders really awesome.”
On plans for this year and beyond, Rowland says: “We all know 2021 and the immediate following years are going to continue to be an unpredictable and crazy time in the industry so for us it’s all about stability, consistency and patience!
“We know we have the products, pricing and company structure to allow us to realise significant growth, but we also know that for the next 12-24 months that growth needs to be subdued to ensure we can comprehensively support the existing dealers rather than striving for more. However, once the industry settles again we don’t shy away from the fact that we’re targeting ambitious growth in the UK through incredible product, exemplary customer service, strong partnerships and massive passion and dedication to the sport we love.”