CoBR - the Consortium of Bicycle Retailers - is no more, not as a buying group anyway, and in its place Laurie Sedman created, the marketing services site that has been modified and which went online again at the weekend. It's open to IBDs and businesses in the outdoor sector

Sedman’s E-cobr service is tweaked

"This is the start of a significant makeover for CoBR Limited as we drop the old image and policies of buying group and become the professional marketing organisation we were distracted from," said Sedman.

Creating a UK buying group for independent bicycle dealers who treat the ‘independent’ part of the IBD name as sacrosanct, proved problematic for Sedman:

"These schemes are probably all doomed to failure because the independent cycle retailer, with in some cases the assistance of certain suppliers, have taken independence to a different level. This is bringing about a high level of isolation within the industry as retailers look to protect themselves and their turnover."

So, instead of the buying group element, Sedman wants to emphasise the marketing element.

"Most [IBDs} just don’t have the time or the financial resource to compete with the big boys. Others wouldn’t know where to start. Some don’t see the need and rely on word of mouth. Others use inappropriate and expensive methods that produce little return. The result, the big get bigger and independent retailers therefore fight over a diminishing market share."

Sedman feels this need not be the case as many independents have a strong message to promote:

"Our primary objective is to assist retailer members, and suppliers if appropriate, to establish clear annual objectives and formulate an integrated sales and marketing strategy for their achievement. The services required for this strategy can then be outsourced, either in part or in total to e-cobr."

Being part of e-cobr still attacts annual fees. Associate membership costs £120 plus VAT. Alliance membership costs £240 plus VAT and premier membership costs £360 plus VAT. The more you pay, the greater discounts on services you get. You also get listed on the e-cobr website with a four page minisite for alliance members with links to their own and the four page site plus a two page e-commerce site for premier members.

Tel: 01908 613263

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