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ISSUE 006 // 2018

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from the editor

Mark Sutton Cycling Industry Chat @CyclingIndustry @MarkSuttonBike

THE NEXT EPISODE AS I COME to pen my last column for CyclingIndustry.News for a while I’m reminded of when I set out as a young journalist, at the time shadowing a court reporter for the local rag. Taking on what I could by osmosis, the on-the-job training was limited to a solitary piece of advice: “develop the ability to spot a story”. Quite simply, the reporter I was shadowing at the time was telling me you’ve either an instinct for this, or you’ll be staying late every night trying to work it out. As with my rocky start in life learning to ride a bike, I ate a little dust and learned the hard way. At the risk of sounding like one of those tired inspirational quotes that undoubtedly plagues your social media feeds: With each mistake you’ve simply learned another strategy that doesn’t work. Picking the grit out one’s arm, you may come to question how it comes so naturally to others around you. The truth, I’ve come to learn, is that most of us have brushed a little dirt off our shoulders; and that, as a result, it’s with the help of the community around you that you’ll often absorb the most valuable lessons. Thankfully, the bike industry is full of people who will go to great lengths to improve the fortunes of those around them, which, in my mind, is why CI.N has been able to accelerate from a standing start to where it is today. In short, it’s the community that now encircles this title that still enables us to bring forth the content that you’re hopefully enjoying in these very pages. With the sharing of our collective thoughts, ideas and opinions we’re able to get a greater sense of which way is up. As I hand over the reins I must extend a big thank you to some of our own regular contributors; notably Duncan Moore, Jonathon Nunan, Jay Townley, Arleigh Greenwald, Rachel Aldred, Colin Rees, Rick Vosper and countless others. This diverse community of writers, researchers and tutors have kept the CI.N jersey relatively clean for nearly three years now. I’m pleased to say we now also have the luxury of drawing on an expanded pool of talent, with both familiar and new faces joining the team. If you missed the news, until the summer of 2019, I’m handing over the handlebar that steers this title to an old friend and colleague of mine, Mr Jonathon Harker. Many of you will recognise the name; he’s penned bicycle trade mags for just as long as I and a damned fine job he does too. Veteran sales agent and all round bike industry guru John Styles bolsters our ranks further with his unique blend of experience and often beyond the bubble oversight, as does new recruit Hayley Everett, who has already proven an invaluable addition to our title. For the contacts of each of our staff look to the right of this column. I will be operating on the fringes, too, so for those interested in my journey, feel free to get in touch, or hit the follow button at ‘MarkSuttonBike’ on Instagram or Twitter.


Jerry Ramsdale Managing Editor

Jon Harker Contributing Writer

John Styles Staff Writer

Hayley Everett Consultant and Contributing Writer

Mark Sutton Sales Executive

Logan van der Poel-Treacy Head of Production

Luke Wikner Published by

Stag Publications Ltd 18 Alban Park, Hatfield Road St.Albans AL4 0JJ t +44 (0)1727 739160 w CyclingIndustry.News is a proud member of the Bicycle Association of Great Britain.

©2018 Stag Publications. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission of the publisher. The Publisher cannot be held responsible or in any way liable for errors or omissions during input or printing of any material supplied or contained herein. The Publisher also cannot be held liable for any claims made by advertisers or in contributions from individuals or companies submitted for inclusion within this publication. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Editor or of Stag Publications Ltd.

ISS ISSUE SUE 001 001 // // 2018 2018


006 // 2018





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Titanium 47.867

TO Ti OR NOT TO Ti? As mainstream manufacturers continue to throw their weight behind carbon fibre, where does that leave titanium? Duncan Moore speaks to key players and assesses the current state of the ti market…


lot of people in the bike trade today probably think titanium bikes began when Merlin introduced with its line of mountain bikes in the late ‘80s. However, there were ti frame options available long before then and British made too. Speedwell was making frames from the grey metal in the mid-’70s. The problem, however, at that time was the cost and a general apathy in the market.

Yet, it’s safe to say that it was the American market and Merlin in particular that really popularised titanium as a frame material. Around the mid- to late-‘90s there was a simple hierarchy when it came to frame materials; firstly steel was king and then aluminium started gaining in popularity but titanium sat at the top of the sales tree and was the unobtainable dream for many. While mountain biking was driving


(( TRADE OPINION TITANIUM )) bike sales carbon fibre was given short shrift, but once the tables turned and road bike sales began to grow, carbon became the must-have as people traded up from aluminium frames, steel and ti began to be the preserve of custom builders. So just where is the ti frame market today? The major, mainstream manufacturers all seem to appear to have decided that carbon is the material of choice for high-end models but smaller companies are still specialising in ti and in the UK this includes Enigma Bicycle Works and Reilly Cycle Works. While for those that want exclusivity there are a handful of custom builders working exclusively in titanium, such as Darren Crisp, a Texan-native now living and working in rural Italy. Despite the cost and lack of mainstream choice for a lot of riders, it is still considered the material that will build the last frame they’ll ever need. While the above may suggest there’s a healthy market for ti bike sales the reality is not as cheerful. Earlier this year, Comtat Cycles announced its closure. This was a business that began with custom carbon options before expanding to offer stock-sized and custom ti frames sourced from manufacturers in Italy. On the subject of why people are


still willing to pay a premium for a ti frame, Crisp says: “A lot of them [my customers] have tried carbon fibre and all the other trends and they come back to more traditional ideas. I know the people who buy my frames are buying them for a specific reason they’re not buying just to keep up with the latest marketing trends. They are buying into a creative philosophy, an artistic philosophy and a cycling philosophy, and they come to me with lots of experience and having done a lot of research about what they want. We can then sit down and talk about it so that the finished product is built by us together. That discussion is the part that adds the most value to the project, you can’t get that if you just go to a store and buy a bicycle, no matter how exclusive it might be.” However, the amount of customers that can afford a Crisp frame is very small and for those that want a ti frame but with a restricted budget what can small volume manufacturers do to attract them? Jim Walker, managing director of Enigma, says: “As far as I know, we are the only UK manufacturer who builds titanium frames in any numbers. There are just tons of companies offering Far Eastern stuff – more and more appear every year but our USP is that we build on the premises. Indeed, we do

everything here in Hailsham, no work is farmed out to third parties.” Having said that, though, the business also builds in steel and stainless steel as Walker explains: “90% of our output is titanium and the remainder is steel/stainless steel. It hasn’t really changed at all over the years as we are perceived as titanium specialists even though our steel stuff is right up there with the best in the world.” A similar breakdown of material production is put forward by Mark Reilly about the output of his eponymously-named business. “90% of Reilly Cycle Works output is titanium these days. We did a lot more steel in the earlier years but our main focus is titanium.” Those figures mean that both Reilly and Enigma have high enough levels to be able to supply IBDs as well as selling directly to consumers. For those considering stocking Enigma the minimum requirement is four frames or bikes or a combination of both. And with the rising interest in gravel racers pushing the n+1 rule, there are ample options to tap into this market with ti offerings. Indeed, Reilly is quick to point out that those dealers who stock his product are reporting gravel bikes as being the big sellers. It is easy to see


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Titanium 47.867


why when Reilly talks about the profile of his average customer, “Reilly buyers fall into a few groups really. Most normally a slightly older rider, sometimes early retired and seeking a bike to use for big rides and to tour and keep fit.” A similar story is put forward by Walker who says: “A typical Enigma customer is 30-60 years old with a reasonably high disposable income. Our typical customer is looking for something a little different from the crowd, something classy, individual and great to ride. “Gravel bikes are hot right now and our sales of sportive/endurance bikes remain as strong as ever.” “People come to me when they want the most complicated thing they can think of. I used to be the guy that said yes to everything,” says Crisp of his customers, “but that has changed. I stopped doing mountain bikes and now I’m just doing road bikes. As a one-man show, I can’t dedicate time to building chainstays and seat stays for three different wheel sizes, different disc brake mounting standards and lots of other variable factors. There are so many options that I have to set confines about what I will build. “Standards come and go at the moment, and if I build a frame I want it to still be viable in 20 years’ time.”

Those constantly changing standards are acknowledged by Walker, too. “Of course, developments like tapered head tubes, flat mounts, thru-axles etc have changed our frame specification but the material specification has remained pretty much the same as always.” It could, of course, be suggested that the limited development of new technology in the ti market is one of the reasons it remains at a constant level with no peaks in sales. Buyers don’t have to worry about their frame being out of date as soon as it leaves the shop and they know what they are getting, there is no sense of beta testing for manufacturers. This level of slow-moving change can be seen in the comment from Reilly on titanium tubing: “Nothing has changed much technology-wise with titanium other than that we now use seamless butted 6Al4V tubes too, as in our T640 frame.” That is not to say the business has not reacted to new developments, as “we also now CNC a lot more frame parts.” Nor is Reilly oblivious to adapting to new ideas in production techniques. “New developments in 3D printing of component parts will change things a little over the coming years.” It would seem then that smaller businesses are keeping the torch

burning for titanium frame manufacture; small enough to react to changes when necessary but not so big that they are having to launch new ranges loaded with the latest new standards every year. It also means that as smaller businesses themselves they understand better the needs of the average IBD. Success may not be easy, as witnessed by Comtat, but the market remains for ti bikes and frames. “We are increasing our manufacturing capacity slowly and we sell our frames to customers all over the world,” concludes Reilly.



INSYNC WITH INDEPENDENT BIKE SHOPS While at least one of its brands is over a century old, Avocet Sports’ newly minted INSYNC and its partner programme have been created for 21st century bicycle retailing, with independent bike dealers firmly within the equation. Avocet Sports Limited’s CEO Sreeram Venkateswaran speaks candidly with CI.N on the need for a new approach…


ack in May this year, at the launch of INSYNC, Avocet Sports CEO Sreeram Venkateswaran signalled a “fundamental change in our approach to the market.” Coming from probably the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer, that’s enough to get most of us listening. Now, following discussions behind the scenes and initial retail partners already secured, the firm has been fleshing out exactly what that means to CI.N. It’s already been three years since Hero Cycles moved in for Avocet Sports and its brands, including 110 year old Viking, Riddick, Ryedale and DeNovo, all of which have been completely redesigned since the Indian firm took the reins. INSYNC promises even more than redesigned ranges, however, coming months after a new £2 million Manchester design centre has been put in place. Touted as a ‘watershed moment’ for Hero Cycles in Britain and Europe, INSYNC marks a significant new multichannel approach, as the Avocet boss tells CI.N: “We are trying to build brands and we are trying to build value for the consumer. INSYNC was born to bind our brands together.” The creation of INSYNC was a concerted move to reinvigorate


Avocet’s relationship with the IBD, Venkateswaran tells CI.N: “One of the issues we’ve had is that we’ve slowly been losing our presence in very good bike shops as a lot of our bikes and brands have found their way onto the internet and have been discounted there. Obviously then the IBD starts to lose interest.

“WE WERE VERY CLEAR FROM DAY ONE THAT WE WOULD INVIGORATE THE ENTIRE SALES ECOSYSTEM.” “INSYNC was a clear attempt to make something IBD specific. So the first move was to build the brand. You can’t do that simply by naming a new brand, so we built an ecommerce site – As we started to build and perfect that whole mechanism and started to really invest in communication, social media and all those things we found that September was the right time to announce and go to the next level and engage with the dealers with this pure IBD brand.”

The ‘3P’ preferred partner programme marks a step up in the IBD relationship. Avocet currently deals with around 600 IBDs, but the 3P programme will work with between 130 and 135 stores which will be in line for special support. Many will feature a shop-in shop kind of concept, showcasing three or four of Avocet’s brands, with a set number of SKUs on display. Special support packages will be provided in terms of displays. Through social media and other channels, buying, reserving and test riding messages will be pushed to consumers, moving them to stores. “We will be supporting our partners with test rides and weekend rides so the consumers can use those products and then decide to buy, rather than just go by what they see on the website. There will be shop listings on the INSYNC website directing consumers to come, touch and feel the products. Offers run on the website will be run with INSYNC partners too. It is a much more engaging programme. “It’s a complete coming together of INSYNC, the dealers and the website. The next level will be click and collect, which will take six to eight months’ time. We want consumers that buy online to elect a dealer point. Of course not every single dealer will be able to

INSYNC promises a “fundamental change in our approach to the market.”

stock every single SKU, model, size and colour, but we can give consumers the chance to choose what they want to choose and then we will dispatch goods to a dealer. From there, a consumer can pick up and so the dealers’ interest is maintained and the consumer’s interest is also maintained and everything comes together.” Other INSYNC initiatives have come about through dealer discussions, like the INSYNC service programme, another ‘disruptor’ for the omnichannel cycle retail sector. “We will sell one, two and three year service plans on the website, which consumers can buy and then redeem at INSYNC partners, for which shops will be reimbursed in full. “The service programme is a way to engage consumers with our retail customers, to give them more confidence when they buy the product that someone close by will be on hand to support them with service and also to create an opportunity for the consumer to visit those retail partners more often, so that there is a subsidiary business which could be built.” INSYNC’s ambitions include launching a line of branded accessories and equipment, so pushing consumers into stores beyond the initial bike purchase is in the

interests of Avocet as well as the dealer. So far, as of end of August, 89 of the 130 planned dealers have signed up to the INSYNC programme. As this mag goes to press, POS material, catalogues and related materials will be finalised and by end of November, these stores will be fully decked up. At the time of writing, 30 more stores are in the INSYNC pipeline, with expectations that the 130 3P stores will be in place by end of March 2019. “We have a responsibility to ensure bricks and mortar stores remain” As Venkateswaran admitted, Avocet’s brands have, in recent times, been disappearing from quality bike shops thanks to their presence on discount internet retailers. Choosing to turn that particular ship around and reformat the Avocet/IBD relationship from scratch with INSYNC makes good business sense, the Avocet boss argues. “One of the biggest disadvantages or risks of going direct to consumer is that you alienate your retail partners, the brick and mortar stores. We were very clear from day one that we would invigorate the entire sales ecosystem where the brand becomes the core and these sales channels become only the route to consumers. Every route will have a

very different strategy but each one will remain important. People say the high street retailer is under stress, but at the end of the day I think that touch and feel is critical. “We have a responsibility to ensure that high street retail remains, because if you lose that then the consumer buys everything blind. That is not going to be a very strong way to build brands in the long term. You need places where people can touch and feel. So instead of investing into experience stores, we would rather invest into our INSYNC partners and make them experience centres so they in their area will be able to sustain better. That’s the whole idea of the programme.” While the option has worked for some brands in the UK and elsewhere, the opportunity to create INSYNC experience stores was soon dismissed by the team: “We did contemplate the idea. We thought that we would have about 13 stores across the UK. But we questioned what will these achieve? Consumer will have to drive at least 150 miles to get to these stores. Is that realistic? So is there a better way to reach consumers?” Creating a good retail experience is something Venkateswaran is fully behind, just not in own brand stores.



INSYNC aims to have 130 '3P' stores in place by end of March 2019.

“Why do we really need a retail store of our own when we can actually support the partner and create the same retail experience? I think that works better. You are then telling the consumer: ‘Here is our product, there are a lot of products available in the showroom, we are ready to be compared to them, you choose this and it is among the best that is available in the store.’ If you do this in isolation, just building up your own brand, you take the consumer’s freedom of choice away.” Avocet views the UK as its home market, so for now, INSYNC’s IBDfocused 3P programme will not be rolled out to other territories. There will, however, be other approaches in other countries. Key targets include the US, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, which the firm will target direct to consumer, with service partners on the ground. Also by the end of

the year, Benelux, Spain, France and Portugal will see their own direct to consumer sales channels in place. So why the difference of route? “To get into the retail channel in some of those markets you have to go through a buying group and that is always going to be a challenge for a new brand. We wanted to find a way to shorten the process. In the UK we have been working with our retail partners for a long time and that relationship has to continue, but in other markets we will have to find alternative routes as it would be impossible to have any success in the short to medium term. “It can be a very long haul, talking to ZEG [buying group in Germany] and all those guys, so we have different strategies for different markets but clearly we will use the UK as the base.” From its UK warehouse, Avocet will dispatch not just to all of Europe, but



also – for a limited period – the US, Canada and Japan and Australia. Despite the heavy costs attached, Avocet judges it worthwhile and will soon have new warehouses in Eastern Europe and the US. Venkateswaran admits that launching a new brand into the UK is a very different business to launching one into India. “In India we are used to a pace of growth which is very high. The economy grows around 10% so businesses can double their sales in just a few years. But we had to plan the entire business to take place in an economy that is growing at 2.5% - a market that is possibly stagnating if not declining, so you really need to take away share. “The intention is, in the next two years, to see INSYNC become really global, rather than a UK-centric brand. That will possibly give a lot more pride to our customers in the UK and also to our retail partners in the UK. Not many home brands have gone global. In the past, the UK has been central for global brands but it has slowly lost its place in the market, there is Jaguar Land Rover, but we have hardly any big brands going out. Cycle is a relatively small business but this is a good opportunity to take a brand like Viking and take it global. That’s the fun and exciting side of it.”


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Our latest batch of responses to CI.N's 2018 Independent Retail Channel Study covers some testy topics, from the biggest challenges to bike shops to investment decisions plus insights into where bike shops spend their valuable time above and beyond trading. Don’t forget, you can now purchase our full report by contacting


WHERE DO YOU PLAN TO INVEST IN YOUR BUSINESS THIS YEAR? It will probably come as a surprise for many in the industry to hear that almost a third of our bike shop survey respondents have planned to invest in rebranding, marketing or SEO and social spend. 32.95% have dedicated spend to advertising their shop, brand and services which seems particularly forward thinking when, in more conservative industries, marketing spend is one of the first things to be jettisoned when times are tough. A similarly significant amount of cash is being dedicated to revamping store interiors – again an indicator of cycle retailers’ dedication to reaching out to customers, through both improved shopping environments and marketing. Less of a surprise is the leading response to this question, new tooling and equipment, with shops keeping their workshops and servicing capabilities in tip top condition, dedicating more time, effort and money to this priority area. Likewise, investment in stock is high on shops’ priority list, narrowly ahead of clearing debts.


Extra staff


Staff sales training


Staff tech training


Additional premises


Refit or merchandising


New tooling and equipment


Company vehicles


Rebranding, marketing orSEO/Social spend








Clearing debts


Non of the above








In association with The NEC Cycle Show

Online competition


Local competition


Chain competition


Grey imports & discounting online


Shop overheads


Staff overheads


Consumer direct trading


Lack of skilled staff availability


Utility or waste disposal charges


Shipping charge increases


Consumer expectation changes


Shop floor space constraints


Stock availability from suppliers


Overstock in store Margin erosion




Bike share expansion


Mobile mechanic competition









WHICH THREE OF THE FOLLOWING ARE POSING THE GREATEST THREAT TO YOUR TRADE AT PRESENT? There’s no getting away from the fact that internet retail is an emotive topic. Even when online retail doesn’t directly compete with your business, there’s a groundswell of feeling that the internet has changed the way the UK shops at the cost of the high street. Despite not particularly liking the way things are going, that’s not been enough for most of us from spending cash online with the likes of Amazon when there are bricks and mortar alternatives. Honing down to the cycle industry, online competition is seen as the biggest threat to bike shops, by a county mile, with over 80% feeling that internet traders endanger their business. It’s a stark difference in proportion to bike shops who feel their more traditional competitors, such as other local bike shops (9%), are a palpable threat. While we’re not here to bash the internet (that’s where CI.N began, after all), the world wide web (if anyone still calls it that) has enabled yet more challenges to local bike shops. Grey imports are more readily available and accessible (57% of respondents viewed them as a threat to their survival) and that growing phenomenon of brands going direct to consumers (35%) hasalso become much simpler thanks to broadband proliferation. The third biggest threat to bike shop trading is margin erosion which is another one you could pin on the internet if wanted to, but perhaps is a slightly broader problem. Within this issue, sales training expert Colin Rees tackles discounting in store and dealing with customers who are after 10% or more off a purchase price. The bike industry does have something of a discounting tradition, which seems odd to many outside the trade, and sometimes the rush to compete has focused on putting price on the front line of the trading battle, rather than service, expertise and other elements that won’t hurt a bike shop’s bottom line. Stock availability from suppliers also figured highly, offering further encouragement to distributors and brands to be upfront and accurate with the information that they supply to bike shops.





Local advocacy discussion


on safe infrastructure Efforts to secure local


other cycling facilities Contributions to the


Bike Hub levy Pushing cycling for trans-


port in the local press Putting on own events


or demo days Cycle to work or


school engagements Charity


events Non of


the above








Seeing what time-poor shop owners dedicate hours to participating in, on top of their everyday bicycle business, should be an eye-opener, and indeed the results are pretty interesting, if you ask us. Leading the way, over half of respondents said they would be putting on their own events or demo days, proving those types of events are still the primary ways for shops to build and maintain their local cycling communities – and hopefully sell some product or services along the way. It’s likely hard to measure whether events and demo days truly result in added sales for bike shops, but clearly owners, managers and staff still believe in them and also in supporting local cyclists in this way, by giving them specific events to ride in. Cycle charity events also score highly in the poll, as do cycle to work or school engagements. Perhaps it is a measure of the kind of bike shop that responded to CI.N’s independent retail channel survey, but it’s doubtless impressive that a quarter of respondents spend time pushing cycling as a transport option in the local press. That’s a huge proportion of the UK’s bike shops and a decent answer to those that say bike shops need to spend more on cycle advocacy. Continuing that topic, a significant number of bike shops (17%) dedicate effort to securing local cycling facilities and taking part in local advocacy discussions on safe infrastructure (also 17%). What other retail sectors can claim that level of engagement with their local communities?


In association with The NEC Cycle Show



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HUMAN NATURE Spotting the type of customer coming through your bike shop door can give you an advantage in anticipating their behaviour and, crucially, closing a sale. Sales training expert Colin Rees talks human nature…


f you have been following the series of articles if you were requesting a discount. I will write it later on concerning combating the internet competitor, you but I believe, even through these pages, I can predict in will know we are looking for areas where the 99% of cases, what was written.  That’s because, it is internet cannot compete. These must help any bike ingrained in us, and as such, is very very dangerous shop owner anywhere to complete a strategic plan that because that is ‘an expectation’. will not cost a fortune. So far, we have covered a Expectations are the area of selling every sales person level of increased service we called customer care and is up against as it is the measure a customer makes the sort of shopping experience basics, to encourage against the service he receives, the product quality he repeat business. gets and many other issues.  An expectation is often By way of an applicable digression, it is important in contrary to reality.  The quality of a bike might be second planning a training schedule, to take note of something to none but that doesn’t mean everyone thinks that, that can work for profits and, perverse it may be, at the despite it being a fact.  Every complaint that arises does same time, against them.  I am talking about human so because the customer’s expectation has not been met, behaviour. not because there is anything wrong with the product. It’s In past articles, I mentioned the four basic types of human nature at its most damaging. human beings I recognise by the Q numbers, Q1 for We are all different.  Life gets really interesting when we instance often being the cycle take a look at human behaviour enthusiast, dominant by in selling. Anyone who has not nature, needing to display the spent time thinking about this is sales person’s inferiority one trick behind. This article is “LIFE GETS REALLY INTERESTING against his or her apparently pure empathy. amazing knowledge and capaThe big killer to a sizeable WHEN WE TAKE A LOOK AT HUMAN bility. We have all served them. sale could be as simple as a BEHAVIOUR IN SELLING.” The point being that spotting human nature factor. the type of human you have in If I asked any person on the front of you can be a terrific street what discount they advantage. You know how they would expect when they are going to act, the words they will use, what they need bought a bike, I would wager they would say, 10% only from us and the best way to lead them to close their own because we are all brought up to ‘think’ that figure. So if sale. So it goes with the four basic types which in turn, you went into a shop asking for a discount, your expectalead down to 32 ‘types’ of human being. tion would be 10%. That’s £300 on a £3,000 bike. It is In the same field as human behaviour is human nature. human nature, we have all grown up with it as standard. Inbred in all of us are behaviours that appear automatic; So, if they are offered any less, it does not meet their things we think we know; ways we act that were deterinbuilt expectation and produces a ‘negative result’ in mined a very long time ago and stay with us… because their head. Any negative can lead to a lost sale or afterthey are human nature. wards, a customer complaint because expectations have A great example of that is in agreeing discounts with a not been met. On the other hand, if they are offered customer.  Without reading on, get a scrap of paper and something less, in a different form, the sales person is write down what percentage you would probably ask for, acting outside the confines of human nature.




Discount is just an example. Throughout the selling process customer expectations, built from human nature, govern their ‘experience’. It is natural to expect to be well treated, well looked after and by nice people. The challenge to the sales person is to beat any adverse expectation, after first throwing a few hurdles in the way. Back to our example of discounts, on sales training courses, we talk about pound notes.  Would a customer be as happy with a few £5 pound notes?  Well, as with all selling, it’s all about how you do it (more on that in the next article). So what other places can we see human nature kicking us in a nasty place? A person who has not been trained will take the easy way to a sale. Human nature kicks in if he hasn’t been warned of the problem. I have seen staff at the till, offering discounts when a customer hasn’t even asked. It’s because human nature tells him that the lower the price, the more happy the customer will be, and the more likely that person will be to make the purchase – and he’s not wrong but it’s hardly good, sustainable business continually to erode net profit. I call this, the ‘knock something off and make the sale’ syndrome but I have to be careful because the bike trade is steeped in a discount culture and I have been accused of ‘banging on’. People have not understood my reactions when told they give free goods. This is justified, they think, by the low buying price but is this not just feeding a customer with the expectation that they will get it every time? That’s human nature again. It is also the reason why we really have to work at getting sales staff to offer all customers associated products to those being bought. It is not ‘human nature’ to do so. A more critical area is when training how to close a sale. All too often I hear: “It sounds too pushy”. Yet if everyone closes every sale, sales rise by 10%.


That particular subject is all about how the customer is thinking at the time, what do we say when he says ‘no’, all the time? The trainer is fighting that in-built human nature negative. In fairness, it started a long time ago. “Can I have some sweets Mum?” “No.” We all felt we were entitled to sweets didn’t we? When we are told we cannot have them, we were hardly likely to understand why not. It can be an uphill journey explaining how to overcome the fear of rejection in us all but once again, if everyone in every shop closes every sale, that’s another 10% increase. So fear of rejection, not knowing what to do if the customer says no, forgetting, or never being told we should close every sale are all reasons why most sales people in retail stores do not do it – and lose their stores 10% potential increased sales. If you get into the science of the transaction, the customer actually wants you to ask. If you miss it, you will hear, yet again, those immortal words; “I’ll go away and think about it” as they extricates themselves from the situation. Dead in the water, nowhere to go…actually, there is. A more recent area where human nature comes into play is when a customer says he can buy it cheaper on the internet. If someone says that, is there anywhere to go? Human nature dictates there isn’t – what can you say? It is impossible to compete with paying 20% less for the same thing; how on earth could it be possible to turn that one around…says the average sales person, because it is human nature that some things are insurmountable. But sit down and plan as a team for half an hour and it is likely you will be able to put a number of barriers up that may, at least, make some people think twice and save some of those lost sales. Personally, selling the value of your store, what they get for that 20%, is the starting point if you do have the best bike shop in town, I would use it first. More next time.


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Earlier this year, year Oneway Bike Industry - Cube’s UK, UK Irish and Netherlands distributor – promoted sales manager Bart van den Biggelaar as its new a commercial director. Meanwhile, Oneway Distribution - carrier for SQlab, Scope Cycling, SPIUK and others – has recruited its first ever commercial director, Frank van Eck, thanks to unprecedented growth. CI.N quizzed them both…


ONEWAY BIKE INDUSTRY BV (OWB) CUBE distributor for UK, The Netherlands and Ireland. Bikes, parts, accessories and clothing. Commercial director: Bart van den Biggelaar (Pictured right) Years’ experience: 12 How’s the year been for you? Overall we experienced a very good year for OWB. There was a slow start of the year due to weather influences, but with a long tail looking at the ongoing period with good weather. Are any particular bicycle segments especially well for Oneway Bike right now? We are experiencing stronger pre sales in road bikes with disc brakes, hybrids (e-bikes) and a higher demand for bikes with a 1x drive train and gravel bikes. How was the NEC Cycle Show? We always try to bring something special to the NEC show and stepped up our stand building this year. We had a very busy dealer day on Thursday and we saw a strong interest from consumers the three following days. If you missed CUBE at the show, you weren’t there. We were present at


How’s the year been for you? I just recently joined OWD after spending more than 20 years at other P&A brands within the bicycle industry. My experience is in both sales and marketing so I am definitely going to use both to bring OWD to the next level, together with my team. Working in a competitive market with strong brands is always a challenge but I would like to focus on the relevance of OWD when it comes down to the portfolio and the service we offer. Added value is key if you want to survive as a distributor. Are any particular component segments performing especially well for Oneway Distribution right now? We see a strong growth in interest around ergonomics. Consumers are willing to spend their budget on P&A if it increases the overall cycling experience, especially now that we have more people riding bikes or riding longer distances. Brands such as SQlab offer a great portfolio of products that give the dealer the opportunity to sell a specific product for a specific customer instead of a generic product where only the price counts. We recently added Ere Research to the OWD brands. It’s a young and ambitious brand, introducing a complete line of gravel and road tires. But there is more to come… How was the Cycle Show NEC? It was the first time for OWD to present our brand portfolio

the e-MTB test track, MTB test track, kids track. What do you see as your added value as a distributor? Creating demand for our CUBE products via demo events and staff training sessions and good customer service – we’ve added more staff – with investment in warranty and aftersales. We are utilising all channels to communicate better, faster and more accurately with our partners (dealers). All delivery dates, for example, can be found in our B2B webshop, so a dealer doesn’t have to call our office to gather information. This means faster and better service for our dealers and their end consumers. And this is just one thing… What’s your outlook on 2019? We are looking strong into the 2019 season reflecting in high order intake on MY19 products and dealers stepping up their commitment to CUBE.

Distribution for P&A brands such as SQ Lab, Spiuk, Xenofit, Scope and Ere Research, in the UK, Benelux and Ireland. Commercial Director: Frank van Eck (pictured left) Years’ experience: 22 at the Cycle Show and we have always seen this show as a great opportunity to meet the end consumers and exchange experiences. It is clear that brands such as SQ Lab, Spiuk, Xenofit, Scope and Ere Research draw the attention of the public. We are on the right track! What do you see as your added value as a distributor? Right now we have a strong foundation as a distributor, and our ambition is to build a stronger relationship with our dealers. All this is based on realising what you promise to your dealers. All the brands we offer right now are exclusively distributed by OWD, this enables us to guarantee a consistent service level. Our dealers are able to place orders in our B2B webshop 24/7. Orders placed before 4PM means shipping the same day. Our stock levels are very good, which means we can serve our dealers quickly. What’s your outlook on 2019? We have to use our strong portfolio and explain the story behind the brands we distribute. It is important to explain more than just products so we can increase the relationship we have with our dealers and show commitment to new dealers throughout the UK. Besides, I strongly believe, based on experience in the UK market, that dealing with the right distributor is equally important for a dealer as dealing with the right brands.



BELT UP AND RIDE Gates Carbon Drive global director Todd Sellden

If belt drives truly are 'fit and forget' then are they bad news for independent bike shops? Duncan Moore investigates…


elt drive bikes are slowly gaining in popularity but is this a good thing for the bike trade? The benefits to the end user have been well publicised; low maintenance, lack of wear and cleanliness. However, on the flip side if a belt does not wear as quickly as a chain the bike will not be coming back to the store as often for service work. If belt drives truly are fit and forget can an IBD justify stocking and promoting the sale of bikes fitted with them? Of course, as with most innovations in the world cycling technology, it’s all a bit ‘chicken and egg’ when it comes to introducing belt drives to the masses. The main stumbling block is frame design. To keep the classic double diamond silhouette the drive-side seat stay needs to split to allow the belt to be fitted to the bike. Well, that’s the case if the industry standard Gates Carbon belt is used. The only other viable option is an elevated chainstay and let’s face it, that fashion has been and gone. However, there is an alternative coming to market – Veer Cycle. This is a system that uses a split-belt and the makers claim its belts can be used on a regular bike by simply swapping out the drivetrain. In order to get an idea of the future holds for belt drive bikes, CI.N spoke


to both Gates and Veer Cycle. First up Todd Sellden, global director, Gates Carbon Drive talks about the size of the market. “Gates Carbon Drive has more than 500 bike brands around the world using our belt drive system-mostly in Europe but with growing market share in North America and Asia, particularly in the bike share space.  While we have seen nice consistent growth over the

“WHEN WE LAUNCHED CARBON DRIVE, THERE WERE NO E-BIKES TO SPEAK OF AND BIKE SHARE SCHEMES WERE ONLY JUST BEGINNING.” last 11 years since our launch in 2007, we have just scratched the surface in terms of the full potential of Gates Carbon Drive. “A decade ago when we launched Carbon Drive, there were no e-bikes to speak of and bike share schemes were only just beginning. So as the bicycle industry  evolves, we are continuing to innovate our product line to meet the needs of all these new uses for bicycles.”

The way the market and how bicycles are used is the key factor outlined by Sellden as the reason for the business’ growth. “Think about how much the bike industry has changed in the past decade, how e-bikes and urban bikes have become a dominant category in terms of sales and growth in the bike industry. As that evolution continues, we are positioning Gates Carbon Drive to continue to capture a larger share of these new market segments outside of the traditional road and mountain bike categories, which for all intents are flat. There is a simple reason our market share is growing: our belt drives just make sense for many new styles of bike and for many of today's modern bicyclists. Bicycles meant for urban transportation must be reliable and durable. Our product delivers on those key metrics.” Sellden also sees potential to grow sales in areas that are not traditionally associated with IBDs. He explains that markets being targeted by Gates include stationary fitness and spin bikes. “This one is surprising to some people,” he says, “but if you think about the rising popularity of spin classes and the heavy use that these stationary bikes get, Gates belts make a lot of sense because they reduce the workload associated with maintaining these indoor bikes.”



“Belt options pair very well with electric bikes and internally geared hubs.”

Another area where Gates is working with suppliers outside of the conventional cycle retail market is by targeting hire fleets. He explains the logic behind this push by saying: “We have brands such as Priority Bicycles in North America that specialise in corporate campus and rental fleets that are helping us grow our presence within this space.” That changing demographic is touched upon too by Katrina Mounivong, business manager, Veer Cycle, who says: “The industry is shifting towards a more utility and transportation-oriented ethos for bikes with solid growth expected in the urban and commuting segments in many markets. E-bikes are here to stay. Belt drives offer a great solution for these applications. “Belt options make for a great upsell, and really improve the experience of biking for many people. They pair very well with electric options and internally geared hubs, rounding out a high-value package. Belt drivetrains may result in lower shop revenue from maintenance, but there is no substitute for selling customers bikes they love and want to ride everywhere,” adds Mounivong. Both Mounivong and Sellden see the simplicity of belt drives as being the biggest selling point for their respective systems. In Sellden’s opinion: “Internally geared hubs have many of the same advantages as our belt in that they are low-maintenance devices, but they can be more expensive than a derailleur. Early in our product development, we realised that we must become evangelists for internally geared hubs and help them


move forward and become more popular, which they are. “We don't just see ourselves as a belt drive company, but rather we see ourselves as an advanced drivetrain brand that is enabling the advancement of gearboxes and internal hubs and sealed, low-maintenance shifting mechanisms. Our belt is the backbone of these drivetrains, but we partner with all of the leading makers of internal hubs, and we distribute Pinion gearboxes in North America because we want to speed up the adoption of these alternative shifting mechanisms.” Although a much younger operation, having only been in business since August 2016, Veer is concentrating too on the hub geared market as the basis for its conversions. While the company is developing Bosch generation 2 sprockets, freewheel, fixed gear, direct mount rings, and fullsuspension options, its initial release includes sprockets that are compatible

with Alfine, Nexus, Rohloff, and Enviolo/NuVinci gear hubs. Its front rings include five-bolt 110 BCD and 130 BCD and four-bolt 104 BCD mounting options. However, Sellden believes that the full potential for the Gates system lies beyond the cycle trade. “In Taiwan, a company called Gogoro that makes clean quiet and efficient electric scooters with our belt drives is helping that country phase out gasoline-powered scooters due to air pollution. Gates has tremendous expertise in materials science, and we want to put that expertise to work to solve human problems and be part of the solutions economy.” He concludes by saying: “Our growth reflects how wonderful a machine the bicycle is, and how it continues to serve humanity's need for affordable, practical, healthy and sustainable transportation. We want to be part of that evolution and revolution in two-wheeled personal mobility.”

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In an in-depth and wide ranging interview with Ison Distribution boss Lloyd Townsend, CI.N quizzes the distribution boss on everything from bike shop closures to resisting the shortening sales window…

There has been a lot of talk around the value of having multiple bike brands on the shop floor of late. Why should a dealer choose one of Ison’s bike labels? Firstly, perhaps a little oddly, I would like to outline where I see Ison as a ‘bike’ distributor. I sometimes get misunderstood by some industry folks - as I like to describe Ison as ‘a bike distributor that doesn’t sell bikes.’ Of course, strictly speaking this isn’t really the case, but it perhaps underlines that we are predominantly a bicycle parts distribution company that also offers some very nice complete bike options too. What I really mean is that Ison isn’t akin to perhaps the stereotypical ‘large volume bike’ company that focuses on selling tens of thousands of complete bikes and some parts on the side. I think it’s fair to say that most of our bike offerings are ‘somehow different’ to most other players and can be a great fit for the right type of dealer. It’s not unusual to find that retail customers will end up travelling considerable distances specially to visit one of our appointed stockists to make their purchase. I also often note that the ‘bikes of choice’ of many industry staffers turns out to be one of the


brands that we carry, even if the business itself may not stock that brand in their shop. We actively endeavour to avoid getting too caught up on the ‘model year merry go round’ with bike brands that we carry. When a whole range changes for no obvious reason every year, this scenario causes the selling window to become massively shortened. I’m sure most of us must have seen parts of the media actively encouraging consumers to wait until the model year changes to ‘bag a bargain’. Naturally, some model changes are inevitable. Fashions change and component manufacturers also update their lines which can force changes, and so some level of change is going to occur at some point. However, having an annual new model (that often is just a new colour or sticker) is something that I consider to cause huge damage to the market. Dealers simply can’t commit with confidence to holding stock when the sales window becomes too cramped. The clearance of last year’s colour bikes inevitably causes margins to be hammered, and dealers can all too easily risk being left ‘holding the parcel’ when the music stops playing.

Talking frankly, we aren’t too keen on chasing our tails (or pressing our dealers to chase theirs) to simply move mass volumes of bikes at all costs. We’d really much prefer to see sustainable volumes of high quality, desirable bikes, being sold at competitive prices by full service dealers who know and understand both the products and most critically understand their customer’s needs. We believe cyclists are better served by quality dealers who can offer ongoing advice and support for the long term. After all is said-and-done, our customers aren’t buying a flat packed chest of drawers, are they? Expert sales service and ongoing local support can make a huge difference to the performance, enjoyment and safety of the end product, and these factors have significant knock-on effects in the use of the bike and the long-term development of cycling overall. If folks don’t get a good experience with their bike, they will not use it, and so the potential to develop a long-term cyclist is then scuppered. The key element for success seems to be customer service. The dealers who know their elbow from other parts of their anatomy about their customer’s needs and the bikes they are supplying,

plus ultimately supporting them ongoing, are the ones that seem to do best. Naturally, pricing does need to be competitive. However, we usually find that, actually being the cheapest option for a particular bike isn’t commonly the key consideration that will sway the end customer to go ahead with a purchase from one of our dealers with the brands that we handle. Interestingly, our margins for dealers on our bike lines may not be as large as some of the claimed headline margins we hear about being offered out for some ‘mainstream’ brands. That said, I feel it’s worth dealers considering the achievable margins in their assessment calculations of what brands to actively promote. After all, if an IBD has to give away nearly all of their trade margin to even be competitive with other volume retailers’ end unit price for the same product, then having what appears to be a huge margin initially can very easily become somewhat of a ‘red herring’ in the final equation. Recent surveys by CI.N have largely pointed to double the number of bike shop closures to openings in the market. Does that reflect what you’re seeing and what, in your opinion, are forward thinking retailers doing to strengthen their businesses? There have been a growing number of IBDs closing-up shop lately and concerning though this trait is, I don’t think it’s unexpected. The whole bicycle supply chain has become a little bloated in the past few years, and what with the reported contraction of the market in new bike sales, and the rise in ‘online’ sales, some re-balancing of the retail market has been almost inevitable. I feel that the more forward thinking dealers are searching out USPs that allow them to remain distinct and attractive (even essential) to their customers. Even basic things matter, such as ensuring that the products being ‘sold’ are of benefit and value to the customer, but also the dealer too. For example, I sometimes hear of dealers commenting to our sales staff, "yeah - we major on XYZ because they are a known brand, and so it’s less effort to sell them". Then, almost in the next breath, they are complaining that their customers are buying those very same

brands and products that they’ve been actively endorsing to their customers online or via ‘sheds’. Sometimes, I think there is benefit in investing some additional time and effort in good quality, more exclusive products than only staying with mass brand items that are available literally everywhere. In the end, I expect that the more switched on IBDs are likely to become more akin to the proverbial ‘master butchers’ or ‘artisan bakers’ of the wider market. After all, it seems the supermarkets have pretty much swallowed up the old-fashioned corner shop trying to sell tins of regular baked beans, sliced bread and pre-packed ham. Basically, I feel that shops need to have some USPs over their competition to remain an attractive option for consumers. Simply trying to sell the very same tins of beans and sliced bread as everybody else probably isn’t where the future lies for the IBD shops to thrive. That said, I think having nothing at all that the typical customers can recognise and have any confidence in buying to offer is perhaps a step too far, as this will probably result in customers going elsewhere to see/buy what they think they wanted in the first place. In conclusion, I feel that product ranging (the mix of brands and types of products) should be considered an important part of making up a dealer’s USP. This factor sits alongside the other things (such as pre-sales and

after sales service, advice, club rides, bike fit, B2 local B services, etc) which will give their customers multiple reasons to keep on using them over the competition.

“I EXPECT THE MORE SWITCHED ON IBDS ARE LIKELY TO BECOME MORE AKIN TO THE PROVERBIAL ‘MASTER BUTCHERS’ OR ‘ARTISAN BAKERS’.” Coming from a small family bicycle retail business directly myself, I have more than an inkling about the challenges that IBDs face. The company was started in Cambridge in 1895 by my great grandfather - making The Light Blue brand of bikes. Ison is family owned and remains a small company of 25 or so cycling enthusiasts. I have personally worked with bicycles for nearly 40 years, and I’ve learnt some of the basics of what matters to a small business from deep inside my family’s bicycle shop. We will endeavour to champion the IBD network to cyclists, as I believe cycling in general, is best served by local experts, who can deliver great products with competitive prices, and, most critically, those that are best suited to the customer’s needs.



Ison has a strong portfolio of house and specialist labels such as Rohloff. Is there a strategy in the portfolio you’ve built and how can dealers benefit? We like to be more than just a trading customer to the brands we work with. We aim to be strategic UK partners to our key suppliers. Many of our relationships have evolved across decades of working together with mutual trust, and this aspect usually delivers great stability, which filters through to the dealer network. With Rohloff we have a niche transmission product, but one that is widely recognised as the best in the world. The customer base for £1,000 internal gear hubs isn’t huge, but for those dealers who know where their elbow is, having Ison providing easy access to the product is useful. Most of our third party brands have their own world class leading focus e.g. to name just a few, Renthal are the leaders in specialist MTB handle bars, MRP are leaders in chain devices (and are gaining ground in suspension too). Dia Compe is widely established as an expert in caliper brakes, ODI are the Worlds leading grip brand and so on. In addition to our leading specialists brand strategy, we are staffed almost exclusively by cyclists. This normally means the folks here understand the products and can help dealers if required to do so. As a distributor of specialist parts and accessories, we endeavour to provide our dealer base with a leading brand option to serve their customers within every cycling category. We carry in excess of 10,000 SKUs, giving an in-depth range that covers virtually any area of cycling as a ‘one stop shop’ option so for example, if a BMX dealer needs a selection of ODI grips and some specialist Dia Compe brakes plus a few Gusset chains and some Demolition tyres, it’s easily arranged. If that same dealer also needs to add some Silkolene oil or TSG helmets and perhaps a set of MTB type stainless steel chainring bolts, it’s easy for them to combine these to their order. Similarly, if a mountain bike dealer wants some ODI grips, but also wants to add some Halo road wheels or a new Tioga Undercover Spyder series carbon saddle, this is also easy for them to do. In essence, we are aiming to offer the key benefit of one order, one supplier, one delivery, one set of paper-


work. This all goes to help make things more efficient for the dealer in handling specialist products, and in the process of delivering this, our dealers can, in turn, offer great products at competitive prices that their customers will appreciate.

“WE AIM TO OFFER THE KEY BENEFIT OF ONE ORDER, ONE SUPPLIER, ONE DELIVERY, ONE SET OF PAPERWORK.” If a visit to your showroom is anything to go by, you’re strong advocates of smart merchandising in store. What advice have you for stores setting up their displays to drive sell through? We’ve always been aware of the physical showroom having brand marketing value, but, being open about it, it’s perhaps not until quite recently that I’ve realised how important it is to present the products in their best possible light at point of sale. Good and improving POS is something we are continually developing for our house brands, and also in closer co-operation with our third party brands too. We recognise that branding at the physical point of sale can make the difference in selection for the consumer. As such, we as a company are very happy to provide available POS for dealers who want to commit to selling our products. We are always happy to discuss bespoke co-op POS options where something may be applicable.

Ison’s house labels are seemingly growing their presence in the UK and further afield – what’s coming in 2019 from the likes of Gusset, Light Blue, Halo and Identiti? A few years back I made a decision to inject some additional resources into our existing house brands so that they could sit alongside many of the great brands and partnerships that we already hold. Naturally, I recognise that we offer several market leaders in different sectors, but, it’s also apparent that we could complement (rather than compete with) our third party partners with some of our own brand items and also bolster some of the niches where we have voids in our offerings (e.g. carbon road wheels). As they’ve developed, we’ve also started to see our house brands make their own way into the export market and OEM (where applicable). I The Light Blue is my great grandfather’s original bike brand, started in 1895. It holds a special place in my own personal interest. Our resident road market guru Steve Clarke has been tasked with heading up The Light Blue as brand manager. We have two key ranges - Sport and Urban. The Urban range was developed to fill a need for reasonably priced, lightweight but simple bike for use in a city like Cambridge, and is assembled (and boxed) in Taiwan. As you might expect, even so, we still added some subtle USPs that customers eventually appreciate based on a lot of our experience in the market such as gel saddles, antipuncture tyres, double wall rims, stainless spokes, dog leg rear racks etc. For




2019 (after 5+ years with no changes) we have now re-vamped the graphics and some of the colours a tad and should have good stock of all sizes from early next year for interested dealers. The Light Blue Sport range has been developed using Reynolds Steel as the frame material option. We have two sub categories in the Sport range: Retro Sport using brazed lugged frames and the Modern Sport range using sloping top tubes and tig welding - both of which seem to manage to achieve some great accolades from the cycling media and the public. These framesets are assembled into complete bikes by hand using our UK warehouse as the parts store. Incidentally, we have found some advantages when developing some of the niche models e.g. we needed a ‘Retro’ type wheelset (that wasn’t so easy to source), so we simply asked our house brand Halo to accommodate the need. The Retro Sport range (almost by definition) isn’t likely to change much, aside from perhaps a new ‘Mixte’ later in the year, but for the Modern 2019 range we are in the process of developing an 853 road bike with a carbon fork, flat mount discs, hidden mudguard mounts and unusual switchable Di2 and cable control gear options. I Identiti is our hardcore MTB focused bike/frame brand - is headed up by Pat Campbell-Jenner, an Ex-4X team rider,) with some added advice from the industry icon that is Michael Bonney. Identiti is developing all sorts of new ideas and finding several of their own USPs that will deliver great options for the right dealers to be involved with. We are hand assembling bikes here, which delivers significant advantages in build specification flexibility, given the vast selection of parts that we have access to. I Gusset is the MTB based parts brand, also under Pat’s wing. Gusset offers great performance parts at a price level that is designed to compete with other brands in the market whilst not adversely affecting our class leading 3rd party distribution brands. Notable for 2019 is the S2 range that carries Pat’s direct input and has really started to connect with the market place. I Halo Wheels is by far the largest of our in-house brands currently. Halo offers wheels (and associated parts) for virtually any type of performance riding. Halo has some superb options for anything from BMX racing, Fixie,


Road, Gravel and Mountain. Jordan Lunn has been responsible for driving Halo forwards in the market place for the past two years and continues to make successful inroads in all sectors. 2019 will see a continued expansion of new products including a whole range of SP Dynamo front wheels, and some other very exciting new technical products that I can’t talk about right now.

“IT’S NO BIG SECRET OR SUPRISE THAT BOTH THE [BMX] RACE AND FREESTYLE MARKETS HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT FOR THE PAST FEW YEARS.” I Genetic is our ‘lightweight’ road focused parts brand that Steve Clarke also now steers and is similar in context to its sister brand of Gusset but in a different sector. 2019 will see the expansion of the increasingly popular drop handle bar options and finishing kit products. I Passport is our range of Touring and Commuting accessories and parts. Bryan Harris has recently been appointed to manage Passport and will no doubt build upon the significant success of the bike packing range which was introduced last year. In a similar way to Genetic and Gusset, Passport products offer great design, good dealer margins, affordable price points and fabulous performance in their given market sectors.

You’ve a speciality of sorts in BMX too – how is this market performing lately and what tips have you for dealers with a local skate park or race scene? In our early formative years, we were successful in this area of the market and I have retained a strategy of wanting to maintain a significant presence in the BMX markets. For example, we carry very significant stocks of ODI grips, Volume and Demolition products, TSG Safety gear, Renthal bars and chainrings, Halo wheels, Gusset components, Dia Compe brakes, HT pedals and Tioga tyres and parts. We maintain, what is effectively far more than, an adequate critical mass of great products that enables Ison to be an important and interesting supplier to any dealer involved in BMX race or freestyle at any level, and of course, Ison also allows the brands to have easy access to a wide selection of dealers. I think it’s no big secret or surprise that both the race and the freestyle markets have been difficult for the past few years – especially in the UK (but also worldwide). Some level of diversification seems to have been useful for most of the BMX shops that I can think of, with one or two shops exceptionally benefiting from a polarisation of the current consumer focus. Keeping a finger on the pulse for the fast-changing fashions in the freestyle market seems especially relevant, so having a buyer that understands what those trends are is a big advantage to have if you can. On the very niche race side, retaining some form of involvement with promotion at the trackside seems to pay dividends for the few dealers who can do well in that market.


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Honestly, it’s difficult for me to say that BMX in all its forms is an overall key factor in our trading, but it’s still one area that we are very happy to continue to actively service and support and I believe we do so quite well. After all is said and done, some of the great celebrities that have lifted cycling overall in the UK lately, had their two wheeled seeds sewn in BMX. When we last spoke you alluded to an incoming programme whereby dealers got the jump on selected stock prior to a consumer window opening – can you expand on your plans here? Frankly, we are still working on ideas here. Whether we like it or not, ‘Omni channel’ sales are happening and are likely to grow. There are some potential concepts that seem to be viable with the right technology and desires. In my opinion, a stronger working relationship between the industry and dealers is most viable if all parties involved make some extra efforts. I am very open to talking with suppliers, dealers and also technical providers about how we can better aid the dealer base. We still believe cyclists and cycling in general are best served by quality dealers who can offer ongoing advice and support for the long term. One of the biggest issues we all face that I can see is the consumer activity that is known as showrooming. Ultimately, independent showrooms cost money to run. Without some form of income (with profit), the costs of operating a showroom cannot be met. This is a conundrum that we need as a society to solve, or we will risk losing independent physical showrooms/dealers (at least as we know them now), and I think we’ll all regret that position. Unfortunately, by then, it will be too late. Why should dealers have an account with Ison? You mean aside from the ease of access to our vast range of class leading specialist products and our underlying desire to try and support the dealer base with great service and reasonable margins? Being more than a bit of a ‘bike geek’ myself, it’s quite satisfying being able to have many of the ‘get me out of jail’ tools, adaptors, spacers, thingys and gizmos to supply our customers. Those bits and pieces are often quite niche and as such they may not deliver us the


biggest profits, but, they do allow us to complete the full package of goods for the customers we serve. I feel quite fortunate that we don’t have to answer to venture capitalists or other financially driven paymasters for every decision that we take in business. Since our inception in 1992 Ison Distribution Ltd. (I.D.) has become established as an outstanding distributor of high quality bicycles, parts and accessories focused on serving IBDs in

“ONE OF THE BIGGEST ISSUES IS SHOWROOMING. THIS IS A CONUNDRUM WE NEED AS A SOCIETY TO SOLVE.” the UK. With over 25 years’ experience and with many knowledgeable staff, Ison Distribution remains on hand to provide expertise and advice. We believe that the IBD network remains able to best deliver the necessary expert purchasing advice and ongoing support that allows cyclists to safely enjoy and develop within this great sport that we all serve. Ison’s comprehensive range covers products for virtually every genre including BMX, Dirt Jump, DH, XC, CX, Gravel, Adventure, Touring, Fat, Urban, Fixie and Road, making Ison a convenient supply source for all types of specialist bicycle dealers. I.D. continues to invest in our logistics system, IT systems, rider sponsorship, advertising and marketing and additional staff to better serve our dealers, and, of course,

ultimately the wider cycling community. Our website,, allows consumers to browse our extensive range of products from the world’s leading parts and accessory brands and go to their favourite local dealer to order them. Our ‘Trade Log-In’ system on the Ison website gives dealers access to our increasingly slick B2B features 24/7. We recognise that, in business, dealers have many supplier choices to make, and we would like to thank those who support Ison. We continue to welcome suggestions on how we might further improve our services and products. What should the industry focus its efforts on if we are to achieve new cyclist creation? I’d have to suggest that the development of more safe cycling networks and more training of youngsters have to be important for the long term. The promotion of cycling to school could percolate forwards to result in more adults using and enjoying riding bikes, turning them into adult ‘cyclists’. The encouragement of trying out the sporting aspects that surround cycling first hand at school, perhaps by pool or loan cycle schemes for school fitness lessons may be something that the industry could consider. I’d expect that far from every parent is keen to spend out on expensive cycling equipment for their youngsters to simply try out a bicycle related sport. I don’t know of any youngsters with a long jump pit or Javelin for their back garden, so the concept of maybe providing school property BMX bikes, MTBs or road bikes, etc, may not be a million miles from being something viable for some educational establishments to consider.




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There is hardly any bike to be found without a component produced in Taiwan. Over the past 50 years, the Pacific Island has not only developed into an important centre of bike production, but also into a trendsetter for the whole bike industry. Werner-Müller-Schell provides a glimpse behind the scenes of the Taiwanese bicycle capital.


t first glance, Taichung appears a stereotypical modern Asian metropolis. Skyscrapers veiled in clouds of smog are found in close proximity of industrial corrugated sheet iron halls, and expensive stores are located next to small street shops. Narrow streets lead from major transit routes filled by innumerable motor scooters and crowds of people purchase products on the exotic night markets. Nearly three million inhabitants live in the catchment area of the metropolitan city which is located close to the Taiwanese West Coast. After Kaohsiung and Taipei, Taichung is the third largest city of the Pacific Island. A closer look into Taichung through the eyes of a bike lover suggests that the bicycle plays a more significant role than the streets dominated by scooters might indicate: The arguably bestknown name associated with the city is Giant, the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world, established 46 years ago. Although, situated in a considerable

factory complex of about 67 million square metres in the north-western Dajia district, Giant is not the only bike brand in this region: All in all, there are more than 200 companies based in Taichung and they are all attributed to the bike industry, producing rims, seat posts, stems as well as complete bikes. “One could really say that Taichung can be considered the Detroit of the bike industry,” states Micki Kozuschek, founder and CEO of Lezyne. The American manufacturer for lights, bike pumps and tools owns a complete factory in Dali City, a district in the southeastern part of Taichung. Internal quality controls are carried out at this location as well as delivery to distributors all over the world. “From the beginning on, we owned a factory in Taiwan. Lezyne was founded in 2007,” explains Kozuschek during a tour through the production halls. The modern factory was built in May 2012 which is seen as a further investment in Taichung’s location and around 150 employees are currently

working here. One of the most important reasons behind the location of the company can easily be identified: “The proximity of the suppliers. Taichung’s great advantage is for sure its agglomeration,” Kozuschek says. A COUNTRY IN THE SIGN OF BIKE PRODUCTION Over the last decades, Taichung and the whole of Taiwan have developed into one of the major producers for bikes and bicycle parts in the world. Today, the country is the second largest exporter of bikes in the world behind China. In addition to the Taiwanese major companies like Giant or Merida, located in Yuanlin only 30 kilometres south from Taichung, numerous wellknown brands produce their products here. Between January and April this year, more than 800,000 complete bikes left the island. It is no coincidence, therefore, that Taiwan calls itself “The Bicycle Kingdom” – with Taichung being the capital of this



kingdom. Taiwan’s importance for the bike industry also comes into focus with the Taipei Cycle Show and the Taichung Bike Week, recently held in September and October. At both exhibitions, more than 1,000 producers presented their latest products. “The region around Taichung is for sure the principal place of Taiwan’s bike production,” confirms Stella Yu (pictured top left), In 1979, Stella Yu, who is now 70 years old, set up Velo. The company with more than 2,000 employees is one of the largest saddle manufacturers in the world and one of Taiwan’s most “bike-conscious” brands. More than 15 million saddles per year are produced in the halls in the Dajia district – and thus, Taichung. “One reason why the bike industry is so strong here may be explained by our


history. Taiwan has a close relationship with Japan. Production in Japan became too expensive in the 1960s, so cheaper production sites had to be found. Taiwan was the first choice for Japanese companies,” explains Yu. The trend had led to a domino effect: More and more producers settled down in Taiwan over the following years and soon numerous international bike producers trusted in the quality of Taiwan. The label “Made in Taiwan” became a worldwide recognised brand in itself. The reason why so many bike companies settled down in Taichung is partly geographical, as explained by TAITRA (Taiwan External Trade Development Council), an organisation which tries to support Taiwanese companies with their trading activities: “The western part of Taiwan is flat and therefore

well-suited for industrial development. This led to a fast growth in the region,” says press spokeswoman Andrea Wu. Kinesis is another well-known enterprise situated in Taichung. Kinesis is also located in the north-western district Dajia. The manufacturer for bicycle frames, bicycle forks and bike components is specialised in working with aluminium. “Many large firms are to be found here, that is why they are all grouped closely together: transportation distances and communication are therefore easier,” confirms Arthur Wang, director of marketing. Nonetheless, Kinesis outsourced a great part of the production to the Chinese Guangzhou for cost reasons. For example: While 90 employees in Taichung produce about 18,000 bicycle frames and 14,000 forks, the numbers in China

are vastly higher: 1,000 employees produce one million frames and 150,000 forks per year. A BICYCLE COUNTRY AT A CROSSROADS Taichung is not only a production centre, but also an itinerary for Taiwan’s “bike kingdom” future. Nowadays Taiwan is no longer only profiteer of globalisation as it was at the beginning of the bike boom 50 years ago, but also faces competition with countries like China, Bangladesh and Cambodia. Those countries produce at lower costs and therefore push bike companies to outsource their production. High-tech and know-how might help to counteract: The saddle producer Velo, for example, focuses more and more on automatic production systems which

improve quality and reduce costs at the same time, explains Stella Yu. Just a few kilometres away you can find the company Marwi, one of the biggest producers of bicycle pedals in the world with more than 500 employees, where robots are the measure of all things, too. “This is the decisive step into the future for Taiwan. The keyword is Industry 4.0,” says Marwi’s general manager James Huang. While established companies modernise their production, Taichung is also the home of many young entrepreneurs and start-ups, who want to conquer the bike world and ensure that Taiwan’s place as “Bicycle Kingdom” remains alive. Besv, for example, plans to introduce an e-roadbike to the market in 2019. Bryton, a bike computer manufacturer, already

competes with established brands, such as Garmin or Wahoo. Just as in Europe, Taiwan focuses more and more on the production of high-end ebikes. “E-bikes will also be the future in Taiwan,” predicts Stella Yu. The traditional structures in place in Taichung might be vital for this plan. “Long and intensive business relations have always been important in Taiwan. Here, you find all stages of the development of bikes in a small area – which is unique,” explains Andrea Wu. This statement shows: Although Taichung might seem like a typical Asian metropolis with skyscrapers covered up with smog and busy night markets: The city is of utmost importance for the Taiwanese bike industry – and thus indirectly for many cyclists across the whole world.



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SALE-MATE With retail footfall down, the pressure is on for in-store sales teams. Retail training exec Jake Wiid discusses targets vs customer needs…


here’s no denying the struggles independent bike shops, and even their chain store counterparts, are having. It’s a UKwide problem for anyone in retail with a bricks and mortar shop front. Cycling businesses are having to diversify in the same way all high street stores are having to - introducing coffee shops, repair workshops, promoting local cycling and utilising local social media. So when a potential customer does walk through the door you want them to stay and spend. And that’s where training providers come into their own. Jake Wiid has worked his way up from retail store management, through sales rep to retail training exec. His work with outdoor lifestyle marketing agency, Spring PR, means he now works with top brands including Polartec – the innovative fabric manufacturer making a name for itself in the cycling world. “With foot-fall down in high street retail, maximising every opportunity is more important than ever,” says Wiid. “But this doesn’t mean selling as much as possible to get the short-term win. “I experience good and terrible sales people. Judging this was not on the value of their ticket items but on the care, compassion and, more importantly, their understanding of the customers’ needs. “So many retail teams have a financial target at the front of their minds when a customer walks in the store. It’s drilled down each day and often they hear, but don’t listen to, the customers’ needs. The best teams hit their targets without a thought.” Being an ingredient brand, Polartec very much benefits from investment in training. Its wide range of technical fabrics offer different features for cyclists and their benefits need to be explained to be seen. And to be explained to a customer, they need to be understood by the sales person. As Wiid can attest to: “Anyone can sell a product to someone else, but the key is to know that product and be honest. One company I ‘rep’d’ for spent more money on their training and seeding campaign than they did on their sales campaign and the results were impressive. However, some retailers see training as a ‘chore’ or a ‘distraction’ from selling, whereas this should be seen as the key to selling.”

SO WHAT ARE JAKE’S TOP FIVE TIPS? “THE BEST SALES PEOPLE I ENCOUNTERED ALL HAD THE SAME KEY SKILLS IN COMMON.” I Knowledge – with the digital age among us customers are more savvy and highly researched. They expect to come to store for that first-hand knowledge and find out how a product or garment actually performs in the field or on the trail. Sales people who have used their products find the customer trusts them. I Passion – You can’t teach this, you feel this. As fluffy as this may sound, if a customer talks to someone who cares, they will buy. Apple is a great example of this, their staff care, are highly trained but more than that, they are passionate. I Upselling – Every good sales person can upsell the product if they listen. Not every customer can be upsold to, but most can. Shoes need socks. Bikes often need helmets. If you focus your time on listening and not talking, you can upsell 90 per cent of the time. People come to the store to spend money, let’s help them do that. I Time and personal service – Everyone likes to feel special or unique, just because they are buying a pair of socks from a high street retailer should have no bearing on how they are treated. If you can give every customer the Virgin Upper Class experience every time, regardless of spend, they will return. Even better get their name and use it… just don’t get it wrong! I Added extras – Most wholesalers have freebies, which as store staff we find a massive perk of the job. If you can get some of these freebies set aside and give them to selected customers as a thank you, they will return and buy more.

In summary and in the words of Richard Branson:




“THE RIGHT JUNIOR BIKE HAS A BIG IMPACT” Having H aving llaunched aunched iits ts llargest argest rrange ange ooff jjunior unior bbikes ikes yyet, et, C Cuda’s uda’s manager Smith bbicycle icycle bbrand rand m anager LLauren auren S mith ttalks alks uuss tthrough hrough design, steering parents away from bikes their kids will ‘grow into’, price points and what’s on offer for stockists. Cuda’s come a long way since the rebranding many years ago. How did the revamp enhance the brand in the marketplace? When we decided to launch Cuda as its own brand and the revamp happened, I would say we under estimated how successful it would be. The demand for the product soon had us re-evaluating the direction in which we were going. Our principal ambition for Cuda was to be able to supply a bike for every cycling discipline at an affordable price without compromising on fit or geometry. We want every child to have a positive introduction to cycling regardless of the discipline they choose. Designing kids’ bikes is perhaps a touch different to the principles applied to adult bikes. How does this design process begin? The fundamental difference in the design process is, as a product manager, you can’t test the product yourself. I do, however, feel that my previous job, encouraging children to cycle in schools has given me a head start, particularly regarding the difficulties that children currently face when riding. I also coach at the local BMX club, so I can see the process from being introduced to the sport and the importance of a good experience. The bikes that children ride have a big impact in ensuring that this is enjoyable and a lot of starter bikes are often badly designed. We wanted to ensure Cuda got that right. As a brand we have a great group of riders aged from 3 to 12 who form the “Cuda Crew”. We can get accurate feedback, both from our fearless


cyclists and their parents, which enables us to continually tweak the bikes to ensure they are the best they can be. After the fit comes the look; children respond well to bright colours and we like to make sure we have that covered. What spec differences do your bikes carry to ensure the perfect fit for kids’ and what research backs these choices? As mentioned, we have a team of riders, our “Cuda Crew” who are riding the bikes and riding on a regular basis. The other important people in this process are the parents! They provide continuous feedback and this is essential in the evolution of our bikes. One thing we have added to our performance range is a 2in1 cockpit. This makes sure the bars, brakes and shifters are in the correct place as well as lighting things up. It is difficult on our Leisure range to use something unique due to price points but we do ensure they are fitted with small cranks, short reach levers and slim saddles. It’s the contact points that really count. How has the children’s bike market changed in recent years? It seems as though quality has increased all over? Parents are definitely happy to spend a lot more money than they have done in previous years. This could be down to the amount parents are spending generally, for example a standard Christmas present is probably an Xbox or iPad over £300. I also think they understand the difference between a lower and higher priced children’s bike,

how that affects the child’s ability to ride and ultimately how much they will enjoy riding. What tips have you for shop staff when it comes to effective ways to sell kids’ bikes to parents? What do most parents look for primarily? A lot of parents may already know what they are looking for but we feel steering them to a bike that is the correct size for their children to ride immediately, and not something they will grow in to, is crucial. We all know the feeling that having a new bike gives you and if they have to wait to be able to ride the excitement can fizzle out and their enthusiasm often vanishes. You have to really embrace that moment and allow them to enjoy it immediately. Is it important to let the child test ride – and does Moore Large offer any method to demo Cuda’s bikes? As a brand we definitely believe this is the best way to purchase a bike. Over the last two years we have focused on getting in front of the consumers at many cycling events, and we also offer a fleet of demo bikes that dealers can use FOC. Size guides can be helpful, but in testing the bike the buyer definitely gets a better understanding of the bike and why some models have a larger price tag than others. Seeing the

child on the bike and that big smile on their face certainly sells bikes! What’s on offer in the catalogue in terms of wheel size, balance bikes, boys/girls and licenced product, if any? We currently offer two ranges of bikes; Leisure and Performance. The Leisure range comes in at a lower price point than the Performance range. This is to ensure we can offer a bike that is more affordable but still carries the same ethos in components ensuring that even if they are at a lower level they are still sized correctly. The Performance range is focusing on weight and is where our mountain bikes sit, which have been a great success for us and an area we are currently expanding. Models range from balance bikes through to 26” wheels. Kids seem to be a lot taller and getting them on a larger wheel size to make cycling easier seems to be important to parents. You mentioned some ‘how to’ videos for the brand – how will these help dealers and consumers? Our ‘how to’ videos are there for the consumers at the minute and will focus on teaching a certain skill. Our first video has been launched and we hope to follow up with more in the spring, focusing on different areas like MTB

and BMX. We all know kids’ enjoy spending time on YouTube so we can see this as a way of reaching them with a positive message and we want to ensure this is delivered by someone of their age. What other staff training can you offer to aid shop sell through? Our aim is to not only to have the consumers asking for Cuda, which makes a dealers job a lot easier, but also to make the shops visible. We have a dealer locator on our website and our new site is due to launch by the end of the year. This will offer a lot more services and in-depth information to help make consumers come to a decision before visiting the store. Reviews, technical details and product videos are all going to be available. What merchandising, POS and marketing support is backing Cuda this year? Every store is different and we know they all have limited space so we like to work with dealers individually to bring their kids’ bike area to life. In terms of marketing, we have put a lot of money in to supporting the Triathlon Trust by supplying a fleet of 55 bikes. The Triathlon Trust is a fantastic organisation which is getting children active and

introducing them to the Cuda brand at the same time. They have had thousands of children take part this summer and really tested the quality of the bikes which we are happy to report have stood the test. We have attended a lot of dealer demo days with a test track and some skills coaching, and have thrown ourselves into a lot of demo days linked to large events like Ardrock and Tweed Love. These has been really successful and we hope to expand this next year. Our MTB range has been a real success so we are looking to expand this and have worked with MBUK to get some coverage in the ultimate guide to kids’ bikes. Brand awareness is still key for us and we will continue to put the brand in front of people. What’s on offer to the dealer stocking Cuda and what buy-in packages have you? We currently offer 74 different models between our Leisure and Performance range and have stocking options that link these ranges together along with the opportunity to stock either range on its own. To become a stockist, dealers needs to contact their area sales manager or get in touch with our internal sales team. We offer healthy dealer margins of up to 40%.




Next year will see the launch of a new Sports Engineering Hub in Northamptonshire, promising the start of a community of innovation for cycle sports teams and businesses…


wo wind tunnels, office and workshop space for rent and ‘cutting-edge R&D facilities’ will be made available to the cycling industry next February, in the heart of Britain’s ‘F1 belt’ at Silverstone. Benefiting from a £2 million grant from Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership, the £4m plus project was created by TotalSim, which specialises in aerodynamic design, testing and computer modelling. Part of Chris Boardman’s original ‘Secret Squirrel Club’, set up to provide a technical advantage to Team GB, TotalSim has also contributed to the successes of British Cycling and a number of F1 teams. Silverstone Sports Engineering Hub is located in Silverstone Park, which is already home to over 70 companies. The region is home to nearly every F1 team on the grid and their specialist suppliers, which has resulted in creating an exceptionally high density of engineering skill on the doorstep. After identifying a lack of affordable R&D facilities for sports teams and businesses, TotalSim sought to build a community of innovation.


“We are aiming for this to be the best R&D centre for sport in the country,” says Rob Lewis, MD of TotalSim. “What’s more, it’s going to be affordable to companies that previously could only dream of carrying out R&D at this level. We’re inviting professional teams, bike brands and clothing manufacturers to make the most of facilities that until now we know have been the preserve of only the best funded national federations.” Broadening the appeal even further, the Hub’s facilities will be available with as much or as little technical support as the client needs. Project Team Leader, Jon Paton, explains: “We’re aware that every company has its own requirements and existing expertise. For those entirely new to using a wind tunnel, we can provide an aero engineer to run the testing and

analyse the data. Alternatively, there will only be a technician to operate the wind tunnel and the client can run the testing. Beyond that, we will offer training to clients so that they can operate the tunnel themselves. This will offer the best value to clients based on site and also the most peace of mind for clients running highly secretive projects.” TotalSim MD Rob Lewis added: “We are aiming for this to be the best R&D centre for sport in the country. What’s more, it’s going to be affordable to companies that previously could only dream of carrying out R&D at this level. We’re inviting professional teams, bike brands and clothing manufacturers to make the most of facilities that until now we know have been the preserve of only the best funded national federations.”


SILVERSTONE SPORTS ENGINEERING HUB FACILITIES WILL INCLUDE: I FABRIC DEVELOPMENT WIND TUNNEL: The fabric-specific tunnel enables highly controlled and repeatable testing of fabrics, the area that has seen some of the biggest performance gains in recent years.

I BIKE EFFICIENCY RIG: The rig uses robots to ‘ride’ the bike and represents a generational leap in the realistic, accurate and repeatable testing of frames and components.

I 3D SCANNING: 3D scanning tools can capture athlete and equipment dimensions for CFD (computational fluid dynamics) modelling.

I SPORTS PERFORMANCE WIND TUNNEL: Pitched as “the most advanced wind tunnel of its type”, optimised for cycling, winter and para sports.

TotalSim identified a lack of affordable R&D facilities for cycle sports teams and businesses



UPS RETURNS TO BIKE ROOTS IN SEATTLE UPS started in Seattle in 1907 as a bicycle messenger company. Now the firm is experimenting with e-bikes in its home city, with the University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab assessing if e-bikes can cut it there.


ulti-million dollar global logistics firm UPS has revamped its ‘urban delivery offering’ for Seattle, incorporating cargo e-bikes with custom, modular package delivery trailers in selected areas. The Atlanta headquartered firm says it is committed to operating more sustainably, with the pilot delivery project going some way to address growing traffic congestion and air quality concerns locally. UPS has incorporated e-bikes into its operations since 2012, with Hamburg, Germany blazing the trail as a prototype scheme for the logistics firm. The company also operates innercity delivery projects with delivery on foot and by bike in more than 30 major cities worldwide, including Leuven and Mechelen, Belgium; Paris and Toulouse, France; Frankfurt, Herne, Offenbach, Oldenburg and Munich, Germany; Dublin, Ireland; Rome and Verona, Italy; and London. Pittsburgh, USA also sees UPS ebikes at work and now in Seattle the pilot scheme will run in the historic Pike Place Market and downtown area.


The University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab will be charged with evaluating the cargo e-bikes reliability, design and integration into Seattle’s infrastructure over the next year. The Urban Freight Lab is an initiative that brings together transport engineers and urban planners who manage public spaces with retailers, freight carriers and technology companies supporting transportation solutions. UPS will share data and analyses from the pilot for assessment against two of the lab’s key objectives: improving first delivery attempts and reducing “dwell time,” both of which should reduce traffic congestion and pollution. “While we have launched cycle logistic projects in other cities, this is the first one designed to meet a variety of urban challenges,” said Scott Phillippi, UPS’ senior director of maintenance and engineering, international operations. “The modular boxes and trailer allow us to expand our delivery capabilities and meet the unique needs of our Seattle customers. It’s exciting to return to our roots – UPS started in Seattle in 1907 as a bicycle messenger company. We’re looking forward to

being able to offer these customisable urban delivery solutions to other cities nationwide.” The cargo e-bike is part of a broader UPS strategy to continue to electrify its delivery fleet. Using its “Rolling Laboratory” approach, UPS deploys approximately 9,300 lowemission vehicles worldwide to determine what alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles work best in various routes and duty cycles. This includes all-electric, hybrid electric, hydraulic hybrid, ethanol, compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and propane. In Washington, UPS uses 10 electric and hybrid electric vehicles. Developed in collaboration with Silver Eagle Manufacturing using Truck Trikes, the cutting edge cargo e-bike system UPS will use in Seattle has removable cargo containers that are deployed via a specially designed trailer. This unique, “plug and play” design will provide greater flexibility to meet varying delivery needs. It will also be able to make deliveries to areas conventional delivery trucks can’t access directly and currently require

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that trucks be parked on the periphery for long periods of time. This will reduce congestion in these areas by reducing truck dwell time, instances of double parking and other unintended consequences associated with downtown deliveries. UPS partnered with the Seattle Department of Transportation to develop plans for the new pilot program. If successful, UPS will expand the route and consider additional cargo e-bike deliveries in other areas of the city. This is the first tailored urban delivery solution to address growing traffic congestion in Seattle’s downtown corridor, and is

part of UPS’s Cycle Logistics Solutions that help reduce carbon emissions, noise, and traffic. The UPS cargo e-bike is equipped with a battery-powered electric motor that can travel longer distances than traditional bikes, carry substantial loads and navigate hills and other terrain. The modular, detachable boxes on the trailer can hold up to 400 lbs. and have a 95 cubic foot capacity. The bikes can be operated with human pedal power or battery power, providing drivers with the flexibility they need to navigate changing terrain and energy efficiency.

“Seattle has always been the city that invents the future, and now we are partnering with one of our hometown companies to help drive innovations in transportation,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny A Durkan. “As Seattle grows and public and private megaprojects limit capacity on our downtown streets, this pilot will help us better understand how we can ensure the delivery of goods while making space on our streets for transit, bikes, and pedestrians. We are eager to learn how pilots like these can help build a city of the future with fewer cars, more transit and less carbon pollution.”


THE BIKE INN EVOLVES Long-established The Bike Inn is under new stewardship in a modern unit in the Lake District, from where it is offering IMI accredited cycle mechanics training…


he Bike Inn cycle mechanics training centre relocated from Spalding to Cumbria in March 2018. The original C&G teaching was introduced by Alf and Teresa Webb in the early 1990s and latterly taught from their home in Spalding. Upon their decision to retire, the natural candidate to take the teaching to the next level was Jon Colborne, the tutor who had delivered courses with Alf and Teresa for over 10 years. Under new stewardship, the Bike Inn has developed its offering. Despite being well received, it was felt that the C&G model had limitations, only allowing qualification at Level 2. With the development of more complex bikes, electronic gear systems, internal hubs, advanced suspension, hydraulic brakes, electric bikes/conversion and legislation it was felt vital that the course evolved to allow accredited certification at level 3, recognised internationally. It was therefore decided to move over to deliver the IMI (Institute of the Motor Industry) accredited training and become the first IMI cycle mechanics training centre in the North of England. The move to IMI has allowed training to be modularised, allowing much more flexibility for students. It makes the course more attractive to bike shops, enabling them to release staff to 046 // WWW.CYCLINGINDUSTRY.NEWS

attend one week at a time and complete the three weeks over a two year period, gaining both Level 2 and Level 3 accreditation. Alternatively, students can still choose to complete Level 2 accreditation over two weeks and then return to complete Level 3 at a later date. For students who have industry experience or are competent home mechanics there is the option to attend for a day’s assessment and, if competent, negating the need to complete week one. Options also exist for students working in the industry to be assessed in the workplace. In keeping with the Webbs’ previous thriving model, student numbers are kept to a maximum of eight meaning a one tutor to four student ratio. Consequently, the teaching is personalised and more importantly it allows close supervision during the practical sessions. Extra options of wheel building courses, hydraulics, bespoke teaching packages for individuals or small groups are also offered. Assistance with setting up in business is key to student success after completion of the course alongside ongoing support from each other in the form of a ‘Bike Inn Graduates’ group. Jon Colborne’s links with events companies enables students access to mechanic support after qualifica-

tion. His in-house cycle repair business Helmwind Cycles also means students have the option to come for a day of hands on experience after qualifying. The new unit is set in the heart of Cumbria on the edge of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Park, with excellent rail networks from London to Scotland. The training unit has been furbished to ensure the courses can be delivered in a modern unit, meeting today’s teaching expectations. It is serviced by a huge range of accommodation options locally offering budget options. The training centre is also a family business with a longstanding connection to cycling. Jon’s daughter Henrietta is a professional competitive cyclist now entering her third race season abroad. Being exposed all her life to bikes she completed Level 2 certification and assists at the unit with teaching and practical sessions and also takes students out for evening rides. David Morton tutors alongside Colborne, with a background of teaching and assessing within the civil service and audit commission, experience in cycling that includes previous cycle racing, British Cycling commissaire work, coaching and bike fit, plus he runs a race league in the North East.










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SERVICING INCREASING WORKSHOP DEMAND Fast approaching its third decade of trading, IBD-favourite The Cycle Division has increased its investment in workshop related brands following its move to a purpose-built facility. Co-founder Chris Giles talks about the rise of the workshop and good old fashioned service…


aving signed Dutch braking manufacturer Elvedes at the start of this year and, days before this magazine went to press, cleaning and lubrication brand Cyclon, The Cycle Division’s portfolio has continued to expand – particularly in the workshop sector – and to fill up space at its fresh new purpose-built warehouse. In addition to those recent signings, The Cycle Division’s sizeable brand line-up now includes Rav-X, Finesse, Sunrace, Sturmey Archer, Weldtite, Schwalbe, Velox, Fibrax, Oxford, TOBE and Union. The firm also offers in-house brand D2O, which is available in bulk and unpackaged for workshop use. Elvedes is workshop focused and aims to make the mechanic’s life easy, The Cycle Division co-founder Chris Giles explains: “They have paid attention to the little details that make all the difference. The Transit display units mean that the products can be organised in a compact way that means the mechanic can find the right part quickly. Elvedes also produces a range


of workshop tools to make everyday tasks so much quicker. It all adds up to a faster turnaround of jobs and increased profitability.” With an increased mix of workshop goods now making their way out of the Cycle Division’s West Yorkshire warehouse, has the firm noted an uptick in

“THE TRADE SEEMS TO BE POLARISING BETWEEN INTERNET SALES AND WORSHOPS.” demand in the sector, with so many shops and mobile outfits now placing weight behind the workshop? “Very much so,” finds Giles. “Many shops have realised that it is almost impossible to compete on price alone and that the way forward is to offer good service – the workshop is a big part of that.”

The firm says it has seen increasing numbers of mobile mechanics and workshops populating the industry: “The trade seems to be polarising between internet sales and workshops and I wonder if the days of the traditional high street bike shop are numbered. We all have to adapt to survive in this changing market. “When we started The Cycle Division we just wanted to import good quality components directly from the manufacturer, unpackaged, in bulk and pass on the savings to the dealers. The D2O brand was born purely because we realised that some dealers wanted packaged product to display. But really The Cycle Division is not about big brands, we’re not about lovely “bling” to have on the shelf gathering dust. There are lots of other companies out there doing that and doing it much better than we can. Many times a customer brings a bike into a shop needing a repair – they don’t care what brand of products are used – they just want their bike to work. That’s what they are paying for – not a particular brand.”


Aside from the growth in workshop trade, The Cycle Division’s portfolio can assist bike shops in upping their profitability in other areas, the firm says: “Our exclusive products from Rav-X, Elvedes, Finesse and Tobe will not be seen heavily discounted online.” GOOD SERVICE AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE The Cycle Division got its start in 2001, when Chris Giles and Martin Ingham decided to establish their own business. Giles tells CI.N: “The only thing that we both knew about was bikes! We started with a small amount of stock and traded from a garage with the office in a spare bedroom.” From there, the distributor has gone on to take on experienced staffers both at its HQ and out on the road, Giles explains: “Besides Chris and myself we have Jonny – many customers will have spoken to Jonny on the phone and he has great technical knowledge. Our wheel building team is led by Paul Blomely. Paul has been building wheels longer than we care to mention and what he doesn’t

know about wheel building isn’t worth knowing! “We have a team of seven sales agents out on the road covering most of the UK, all with many years of experience. What this means to retailers is that there is always someone on hand to offer help and advice. Offering good service and technical assistance are two key principles on which the company is based. We also have Matt. Anyone who cares to can see Matt on our Facebook page. He’s dressed as a dinosaur…” Following an informal poll on Cycling Industry News’ Facebook chat group earlier this year, asking who was the “most IBD friendly distributor”, The Cycle Division came out top of the pile. So why does the distributor think it scooped the unofficial gong and what are those without an account missing out on? Giles puts it down to “plain old fashioned good service”. “There’s always someone at the other end of the phone to answer questions. We can be flexible with last minute additions to orders and we offer a next day delivery service. Our

website has been designed to be as simple as possible to use. We have a wheel building factory and we can build special wheels to order. And very importantly we try to pack orders in such a way that the goods arrive in perfect condition.” Moving to a new purpose built warehouse last year was a significant milestone for the distributor, providing it with more space and more efficient operations. Now the firm plans to continue to grow organically. It’s simple for retailers looking to sign up to an account with The Cycle Division. “Just give us a call on 01484 665055 or send an email to It’s that easy! And we are looking at the possibility of exhibiting at one of the trade shows in 2019. “All genuine traders will be considered! Any order of £100-plus VAT will be sent free of carriage and we can also post small items if needed urgently. We have access to display systems from many of our principles – just give us a call for details.”



GET YOUR SMART CLOTHES ON Despite being a burgeoning sector, sector the smart clothing market is becoming ever more valuable. valuable Will the cycle industry truly connect to this growing area and cutting edge biometrics-measuring kit?


ccording to a new research report by the market research and strategy consulting firm, Graphical Research, the Asia Pacific smart clothing market size will pass the $500 million milestone by 2024. The smart clothing market has yet to make any significant inroads into the cycle market, but it is surely only a matter of time before this changes. With the proliferation of fitbits, smartwatches and their equivalents now being standard for runners, gym bunnies and indeed cyclists keen to keep an eye on fat burning heart rates and more, the jump to smart clothing is not such a big leap. Measuring muscle strength, temperature and physical movement as well as standards like heart rate, smart clothing provides yet more data for riders, athletes, professionals and serious amateurs. Prominent companies in the smart clothing market include the likes of Catapult Sports, which works with elite sports teams around the world, from NBA team Dallas Mavericks and


Premiership Rugby team Saracens, to the Bundesliga’s Bayern Munich and the England Cricket Team. This summer, Ford worked with Lumo to come up with a smart cycling jacket that featured light up sleeves to indicate which way the rider is turning (pictured) and flashing brake lights when the bike is slowing. Navigation hints come via vibration functions that also enable riders to take calls without taking their hands off the bars. GLOBAL OPPORTUNITIES The Asia Pacific smart clothing market has been seen as one with huge potential. Driven by the penetration of intelligent textile manufacturing companies, India and China have witnessed the establishment of a large number of production plants in recent years owing to the availability of cheap labour. Rapid developments in the manufacturing and export activities in emerging economies, including Japan and South Korea, are expected to boost industry growth.

Advancements in nanotechnology and its incorporation in the modern textiles are emerging trends aiding the smart clothing market growth. This technology offers varied benefits such as electronic capabilities and monitoring techniques. Based on products, the Asia Pacific smart clothing market is expected to witness several growth opportunities in smart jackets. Technology advancements have produced ranges of self-heating jackets that respond to temperature changes and provide protection against extreme cold conditions. Some even offer contactless payment facilities to the wearer without the usage of cards or cash (let’s hope no one nicks your coat). The military and defence sector is expected to dominate the smart clothing market, but while the sports market may be a relatively small blip in the grand scale of things, there’s undoubtedly an opportunity for smart clothing specialists in the cycling sector.

Eurobike is over, media launches are done: It is time to decide what brands you want to sell this season. We have the EWS conquering Nukeproof Mega, the innovative Rondo Ruut, the award winning Wilier NDR and E-bikes galore from Ghost. This only scratches the surface… No crazy signup demands or sales targets, just strong products with good margin. And if you don’t sell it? We will credit against a MY20 bike when next summer comes around*. Call and discuss your options, MY19 is here! *Ask about our stock refresh scheme for more details – it’s good…

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“Bring your knees in”? Damon Wyatt of believes the cycle market can learn from the snowboarding sector and do better when it comes to approaching stance width


“EVEN THOUGH BIKE FITTING IS NOW POPULAR, THE CONCEPT OF STANCE WIDTH IS LARGELY IGNORED.” Paul was not the only person who suffered from this potentially debilitating issue which not only affects alignment but also places significant torque on the knee when it’s forced into an unnatural position. The result: pain and potential injury (not to mention the power loss). Even though 15 years have passed since his racing days and bike fitting is much more popular in cycling culture, the concept of stance width is largely ignored. Our article aims to explain the factors involved, when to make changes, solutions, and our recommendations from years of bike fitting experience. Before we go any further, grab your favourite beverage and let’s go over the terminology we’ll use in this article:

Q Factor The distance between the outside portion of each crank arm where the pedal attaches. The term was originally coined by Grant Petersen while he worked for Bridgestone Bicycles. The “Q” stands for “quack” which referenced the wide stance of a duck. This is seemingly contradictory because the argument can be made that q-factor (unchangeable and determined by multiple factors such as bicycle and component manufacturers and the width of the chainstay) is, in many cases, too narrow on a road bike.

Pedal Spindle Width Is the distance from the outside of the crank arm to the centre of the pedal.

Photo credit:


n his early days of track racing, Paul Swift (founder of BikeFit and CEO of CyclePoint) constantly heard the incessant yelling of his coaches, “bring your knees in!” This assumed that there was something inherently wrong with Paul’s form and he needed to force his knees into the “correct” position. Paul is unlikely to admit that his form was anything less than perfection, but the “knees in” adage was fundamentally flawed. At the top of the pedal stroke, the knee was not under the same amount of pressure, and it moved outward naturally to get closer to his ideal position for comfort. The knee then followed the foot faithfully down to discomfort town forcing it inward at the 6 o’clock position.

Stance Width The distance between the centre of one pedal to the centre of the other pedal. This article will also reference individual leg stance width, which is defined by the distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the centre of the pedal.

Snowboarding Stance Width Similarities Now that you’ve thoroughly digested the major terms of the article and you’ve realised you need a significantly stronger beverage, let’s completely change gears and talk about snowboarding. When you Google “Stance Width,” a plethora of articles about snowboarding flood the screen. Significant time and energy has been focused on the adjustment of snowboarding stance width. Their starting point is based on a measurement from the centre of the kneecap to the floor, applying that measurement as an initial width starting point, and then specifically adjusting both width and foot angle until the individual achieves maximum comfort. In most of the articles we discovered, a trial and error method was utilised. Clearly, we are unable to apply the same measuring standards from snowboarding to cycling but there is a striking similarity: the feet need to be set up correctly because once set, the individual is unable to self-select their stance width. Author, bike-fitter, and physical therapist Dr. Katrina Vogel reminds us that “you self-select your stance (width) when you walk, run stand or jump.” Therefore, in sports when you are “locked-in,” achieving the correct stance width is paramount to success and to injury prevention.

Photo credit:




Photo credit: BC Bike Fit

While snowboarding uses multiple pre-drilled holes in the board to customise the stance width of the bindings, in cycling, we have two determining agents (as well as some customisations that we’ll discuss later): q factor and pedal spindle length.

Q Factor:

ROAD BIKE: Approximately 150mm. Currently, many Shimano cranks boast a 146mm q factor and the masterminds at Campagnolo prefer 145.5mm, just to mention a few. MOUNTAIN BIKES: Approximately 170mm. SRAM XO1 and Shimano XTR both width-in at 168mm. FAT BIKES: 200-230mm.

Pedal Spindle Width: Largely uniform in the industry (like q factor), this is the best area for stance width customisation. Let’s take a look at some of the common road pedal spindle widths: Shimano: I Ultegra 8000 – 53mm (+4mm option–57mm) I Dura Ace 9100 – 51mm (+4mm option–55mm) LOOK: I Blade, Max, Sprint, and Classic (all versions) – 53mm I *Note – Look Keo pedals have a threaded area that is 2mm longer than other pedals, allowing for the safe installation of up to (2) 1.5mm spacers. Speedplay: I Zero Titanium – 50mm I Zero Chrome-Moly – 53mm I Zero Stainless – 53mm I Zero Stainless custom lengths: 50mm, 56mm, 59mm and 65mm Issi: I Road – 50mm I Road + 5 – 55mm Keywin: I CRM Chrome-Moly 55mm (custom sizes below): I 49mm I 52mm I 58mm I 61mm I 65mm


The last two examples may not be as well known on the market. Specifically, Keywin is difficult to acquire in the United States, but we mention them to accentuate pedal manufacturers focusing attention on stance width. In our opinion, this is a largely ignored, pivotal factor in achieving optimal comfort, power and efficiency on the bike. Although some companies like Speedplay take this into account, for most riders some customisation is required to optimise peformance and reduce injury. Photo credit: BC Bike Fit

Q factor is roughly the same within specific categories of bike types i.e. road bikes, mountain bikes, fat bikes…etc. The cranks need to be wide enough to clear the chainstay and a wider tyre will, in turn, affect the chainstay width. We will not spend much time on q factor because it’s largely predetermined (based on bottom bracket width, crank offset, bicycle type, and manufacturer specifications) and since the ultimate goal is to find the most comfortable stance width for the individual, this article will focus on pedal spindle length and stance width customisation. With that said, it’s important to notice the q factor the road bike vs. mountain and fat bike:

WHEN TO MODIFY STANCE WIDTH: Although research for this article discovered zero articles on common trends in cycling stance width, the consensus of the experienced minds at BikeFit, our trained BikeFit Pros and the popularity of Pedal Extenders, support the need for stance width modification. It’s difficult to believe that the majority of every asymmetrical human male and female size 4’8” to 7’2” would be accommodated by a 252mm (about 10 inches) stance width (252mm was obtained by using an average 53mm pedal spindle width on each side and a 146mm q factor). Considering the pedal spindle width and q factor example, cycling is like the “one size fits most” of clothing. We are not sure of who fits the “most” category but in our experience, “most” is more like some. Granted, we already mentioned the possible extended pedal spindle width but think about the amount of emphasis on bike size rather than stance width–every company offers multiple bike sizes but not every company offers an array of stance width options.

Part two of this article will continue in the next issue of Cycling Industry News...

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ask the boss


With large buy-ins a thing of the past and brand signings that focus on service, ZyroFisher CEO Matt Barker explains how the distributor has evolved its approach to market.

It’s fast heading on for three years since you became ZyroFisher’s CEO – what have been the key changes in that period? There has been huge change in both the market and within ZyroFisher over this period. Within ZyroFisher we have relentlessly been developing the business with a focus of enhancing the support provided to our customers. The most visible change, other than the name over the door, was the consolidation of operations into Darlington, the launch of the ZyroFisher B2B and introduction of free delivery to IBDs at the same time. There have been a number of other visible changes since then, including introducing a 6pm cut off, enhancing the SRAM platinum club (which provides free returns to the SRAM Technical Centre) and welcoming a number of additional market leading brands, including Alpinestars, Selle Italia and most recently EVOC. However, it’s the probably less visible changes that have been most significant. Our approach to market is rapidly changing and large buy-ins are a thing of the past. We’ve continued to significantly invest in our team, bringing in talent from both within and outside of the industry, and I strongly believe our talented team can ensure we continue to lead and develop ZyroFisher in this dynamic market.


Earlier this year ZyroFisher acquired a French distributor – what does this expansion further into Europe mean for the business? What more might be to come here, if anything? We’re thrilled to welcome Christophe Soenen and the Royal Velo France team into the ZyroFisher family. We’ve known RVF as a business for many years and always felt it had huge untapped potential to become the leading distributor in the French market. Our

“ID MATCH IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF HOW A RETAILER CAN ENSURE THE CUSTOMER PICKS THE RIGHT PRODUCT WITH THE PERFECT FIT, FIRST TIME.” acquisition provides RVF with the resources to achieve this goal and allows ZyroFisher and RVF to share experience for the benefit of both businesses. In terms of next steps, we are currently investing in RVF to provide the platform for growth with a major operational upgrade being implemented at our site in Troyes as we speak.

With brands like ID Match you’re building more service led proposition into your portfolio – why is this strategically important at the present time? One of our core values is to help our customers to maximise their potential. In all markets, especially those involving branded products, service is key to a retailer’s offer to consumers. We are continuously looking at how we can help our retailers to enhance the service they provide and ID Match is a great example of how by using the calliper, cleat fit or bike fit, a retailer can ensure the consumer picks the right product with the perfect fit, first time. I personally used the bike fit for my new road bike and was astounded at how easy it was compared to traditional fitting methods. I haven’t needed to make any adjustments to my bike since it was set up using the measurements from ID Match. Aside from the later cut off for deliveries, how is ZyroFisher advancing its appeal to dealers in an increasingly demanding shopping space? IBDs have a unique ability to enhance a consumers experience and we are continually amending our proposition to focus on helping to attract consumers and aid sell-through rather than focus on sellin. For example, we have amended our pricing to make it simpler, reduced and in many cases removed the requirement for

ask the boss

large buy-ins and introduced IBD focused initiatives such as the EVOC “Try before you buy” as well as rolling out our Evergreen Programme. One of our core beliefs is that the independent bike dealer should be able to be independent and therefore have the freedom to choose the brands that enhance their offer to consumers. We therefore make it possible for dealers to access the full benefits on offer whether they take one brand or many brands from our leading portfolio. You’ve said before you closely watch other industries for retail trends – what have you spotted of late that bike shops can implement or prepare for? There is no doubt that the way in which consumers are shopping is rapidly changing in the retail space. We have seen a huge number of casualties on the high street and we need to learn from what went wrong with these once successful businesses. My belief is that if a consumer is solely purchasing a product off a shelf they can easily get elsewhere then price and convenience becomes hugely important in the purchase process and the internet along with mobile devices has made huge changes to consumer shopping habits in this regard. However, consumers are looking for advice, experience and support as part of this process and this is where IBDs can win in all product categories. Whether this is through personalised fit,



demonstrations, aftersales service to name a few, IBDs can demonstrate their value to consumers and consumers will reward them in return. Last time we spoke the ambition was to turn ZyroFisher into an £100 million business, does this remain the goal, or has this changed? That’s definitely one of our goals. Whilst that may seem a bit vain in nature, the reason we set these goals is it provides us with the incentive to continue to invest in the business for the future and plan how we can utilise this scale to attract talent and improve our offer to retailers. From your overview of the industry, what threats (Brexit, tariffs, more closures etc?) and opportunities exist in the market at present? There’s always threats and challenges within any industry and whilst there are some pretty big ones out there at the moment with Brexit and what’s happening between Trump and China, my belief is we need to focus on what we can control and influence and not on those we can’t. There are always opportunities in every market and that’s where we are firmly focused. GSD caters for both business and family life alike. With its wide range of accessories, the rider can either carry a load of cargo, or the whole family. We are in discussion with businesses for commercial use and those who

attended the Eurobike show will have seen the Deliveroo option about to hit the London streets.


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CIN issue 006 2018  

CIN issue 006 2018