‘It’s a big industry with a bright future’: Edinburgh-based distributor Hotlines looks ahead to 2023 – Business

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BikeBiz catches up with Edinburgh-based distributor Hotlines, as MD Ewan Pinder looks to 2023

This part first appeared in the November edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here

How was the year 2022 for the Hotlines?
Overall, we were very pleased with the performance of the business. Compared to the market, we are well ahead of expectations. There have been challenges as the bike industry resets in a turbulent economic climate: some brands have experienced significant delays, demand on some models has continued to outstrip supply, and more regular price reviews have been necessary to be competitive, protect dealer margins and remain profitable. as a business.

Through the turmoil, we see continued growth on key brands such as Nukeproof, Ragley and Leatt: great assurance that strong products will continue to be in demand during tough times.

Events also grew in size: Hotlines took part in Sea Otter, Ard Rock, Fort Bill, Malverns, Megavalanche, Tweed Love, Dukes Weekender and EWS events in Scotland, France and Italy. Dealer events, demonstrations and outings also remain essential, providing retailers with the support, training and test products they need for immediate sales results.

Events can be tough so we try to ensure that staff can ride and run around our business requirements. Great for engaging colleagues, understanding the products we sell and the consumers we target.

Some friendly rivalries have inevitably blossomed! It’s been a fun year. We would like to thank any reseller who purchased a product from Hotlines this year, with special gratitude to the long-time partners who continue to support, collaborate and grow with us.

What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for the rest of the year and for the start of 2023?
One of the benefits of supply chain challenges has been a forced departure from model years. We have current products in the warehouse available to ship now: roller and jump bikes for Christmas, gravel for the winter, or transportation options as the cost of living causes many to reconsider cycling.

Lighting season is obviously here and Hotlines has covered urban visibility with Bookman, off-road performance with Gloworm and incredible value in-house offerings from Lifeline with the recently updated Pavo range. There are also many workshop, repair and upgrade possibilities.

Great-value Shimano-compatible drivetrains from Microshift, comprehensive gravel and MTB tire options with WTB, tools and accessories from Lifeline, and essential upgrades like the multi-award-winning Brand-X Ascend seatpost.

Will you be accepting new brands for 2023?
Over the past few years, Hotlines has reduced the portfolio and expanded our team. This gave more attention and support to our dealers and increased sales. Stromer, Hornit, Bookman and Gloworm are all recent additions and although there are gaps in categories, our priority remains growing our existing collection.

How have retailers reacted to recent economic/industry turmoil and uncertainty?
Data from the Bicycle Association paints a troubled picture in some categories and with incoming inventory quantities, already crowded workshops and a sticky release valve, so concerns are understandably growing for some retailers. Those trading primarily at the high end, however, remain bullish with relatively stable market conditions.

Demand remains particularly strong for high-end enduro, trail and e-bikes from market leaders like Nukeproof. Hotlines was cautious about taking ambitious pre-orders for 2023 too soon and chose to plan wisely. By talking to retailers today, they have a clearer idea of ​​what they need and while we won’t have it all, we are well positioned to support our retailers and protect our brands until 2023.

What can brands and distributors do to support retailers?
To be responsible. Don’t force stock on already stretched credit limits. Your quick win today will come at the expense of your customer, your relationship, and your own business in the long run. Continue to invest in events, races and brand visibility.

We are all co-dependent and promoting participation is key to driving demand and getting consumers excited to buy new products. Hotlines will also continue to support retailers with demo events. Partner with key periods to drive in-store sales.

Brands and distributors must also put in place measures to better support merchants. On apparel, for example, Nukeproof resellers benefit from a margin protection guarantee. Leatt stockists benefit from a free point of sale and stock refresh program: if you don’t sell it during the season, the hotlines will exchange for new products from the latest range.

We cannot control prices or the extremely unpredictable economy and there will be challenges as inventory issues grow, but we will continue to deliver measures that protect retailer investments and reward commitment to our brands. .

OWhat’s next for Hotlines?
Hotlines have gone through a period of significant change. We are seeing great results and will continue to move forward with the same dealer-focused strategy, investing in our team and being brave in the face of new opportunities.

Hotlines will launch in the US with a new team focused on building an IBD network for Nukeproof, and we will introduce a suite of new internal systems to improve how we operate as a business. 2023 – here we go!

Nothing else?
Many thanks to our brands, retailers and collaborators. There is no doubt that it is a great industry with a bright future.

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