One year shy of its 20th anniversary, BikeBiz catches up with Zyro at its new super sized digs in Darlington

Zyro: ‘We are now ready to double the business’

It is 19 years since Zyro was founded and since then the business has moved three times. Each time Zyro has ended up working over several locations – warehouse and offices – to cope with its growing business, which wasn’t ideal, Zyro director Simon Ellison tells BikeBiz: “That’s not hugely efficient and it actually holds the business back.”

That’s why Zyro has recently moved into a whopping great facility in Darlington with plenty of room to expand further. The distributor’s previous warehouse in Thirsk was roughly a third of the size of its new warehouse. For those familiar with the first Indiana Jones film, it’s a bit like the place they hide the Ark of the Covenant, over the end credits (though naturally more organised).

The height of the facility plays an important role. As no warehouse manager needs BikeBiz to tell them, this game is all about being efficient and Zyro’s new warehouse, masterminded by Zyro director Julie Ellison, has a ‘short walk sequence’. Cutting down on the time staffers spend walking from shelf to shelf, Zyro has opted for a four levelled picking area, where it handles 500 to 700 orders daily, with a 4.30pm cut off – all orders before then are delivered next day.

Getting that many orders out correctly means Zyro has to be tight on quality checking, with random batches QC’d before hitting the warehouse pallets and again before being sent out. While speed is of the essence, those and the numerous additional quality checks have helped the new warehouse hit a 99.2 per cent accuracy target, many months ahead of schedule.

Clearly, personnel are key to that speedy, accurate turnaround of stock and there have been 40 new workers installed in the warehouse section of the business since the move. Not only are staff incentivised with bonuses based on their consistency, but there are training and development opportunities, plus a raft of other offerings to add to their package. 

The move hasn’t just given Zyro chance to boost its warehouse operation, however, with the new adjoining offices providing plenty of space for new staffers to come in should the need arise. In fact the HR department has already been busy – Zyro moved with 100 staff and now it has 180.

Brand matters
As Zyro’s brand portfolio has expanded there is now rival product within the ranges. That’s led to splitting the sales department into two teams – Velocity and Peloton – to handle those rival products (however for the customer it’s still the same voice on the end of the phone, with the same internal sales manager).

Speaking of brands, what have been some of the highlights and trends of the last 12 months? According to the firm, the lights market has been very strong, the firm says, aided by improved technology and lower prices. Hydration has proved healthy too, with Camelbak hitting a number of sales milestones and receiving positive responses to its Kudu enduro hydration pack.

On the nutrition side, Torq has grown almost four-fold since it started with Zyro while the UK locks market has matured to take the folding lock type to its heart, not least with ABUS’ Bordo hitting higher volumes.

Giro’s footwear has quadrupled in 18 months, while Bell has really hit a run of momentum too, with a ‘step change’ in the way it is perceived and having a £100-plus helmet as its best seller.

Altura has had some ‘watch this space’ news in the form of the significant recruitment of Clint Vosloo. Vosloo spent 17 years with Mizuno as global head of design and is now brand director for Altura. His arrival (just four weeks before we went to press) will open the door for some exciting developments, BikeBiz is told.

The luggage side of Altura’s business has grown too with what the firm says is “lightweight, simple, well executed product”.

Name checking the ‘adventure touring’ phenomenon, which now has real momentum in the US, the firm reveals that Tortec is proving one of the most searched for brands on the Zyro site.

Overall the typically understated distributor has seen business up around 30 per cent. While the brand portfolio is growing, boss Simon Ellison is keen to emphasise it’s not a case of adding labels for the sake of it. “We’re not just grabbing brands,” he tells BikeBiz. “We are not trying to grow our brand collection, we want to add value to the brands we work with. We are not a box shifter.”

Needless to say, Zyro does have a few irons in the fire, but is remaining tight-lipped about those.
Jonathan Sherwood, marketing manager, chips in: “It is about understanding a brand and working with retailers and consumers. We want the right partner.”

Ellison: “There are lots of brands that are not being served well. Channel management is a big part of it. What brand wants to put all their eggs in one basket?

“We’re investing in the right team to push the business forward,” he adds. “We’ve had a busy year and now we have the room to grow and serve our partners better.

“We are now able to double or even triple the business. We are ready for anything.”

This article originally ran in the November issue of BikeBiz, which you can read online today.

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