Ask the boss: Moore Large’s Stephen Caunt talks Forme, BMX and a new long-term strategy

With a reshuffle of sorts now taking good shape and investment in the business shining through we talk to managing director Stephen Caunt about fine tuning Moore Large’s Forme…

Moore Large underwent a restructuring recently, how has this helped get the business working harder for dealers?
In recent years we’ve actually been through a process of both brand consolidation and brand expansion. Our approach may sound strange, but we’ve consolidated our house branded accessories all into our key brand ETC (‘Everything to Cycling’). This one focus has additional benefits to our customers with larger marketing budgets, more competitive margins, and in-store merchandising available to all stockists.

As intended in our long-term strategy, both Adam Biggs and Adam Garner have integrated seamlessly to their new roles, contributing to board meetings. As full time members of the board they have gained a “top down” perspective of the company, consolidating their skills and experience.

Adam Garner has reviewed our product manager’s roles and developed them into brand managers. This expanded role allows the team a greater level of responsibility over brand and product selection and, most importantly, valuable interaction time with the brand owners. This ensures that we are focused on the product, and offering for the UK market and our committed dealers.

Adam Biggs has always had great ambitions for the brand. Fostering these ambitions for Forme, we’ve shifted our attention from Barracuda for the IBD and the key models in this range have been put into our house brand Forme and FreeSpirit, respectively. We’ve committed ourselves to the IBD market, and dealers with premises, because we firmly believe in the value of a dealer selling the right product to the consumer. This is also why we are so fully behind the Forme tailor build. We want the consumer to have the best experience of riding any of our bikes, whether it be Cuda, Forme, Polygon or Tern. The dealers’ knowledge and advice is vital to the consumer enjoying and wanting to ride our bikes.

Our portfolio is made up of a selection of house brands and globally recognised brands that we distribute. Most recently we’ve added O’Neal, GUEE, Tern, SIXS, WeThePeople, Radio and Salt.

We’re still on the lookout for new stuff too, so any brands looking to improve their UK business – please get in touch.

How’s progress on Forme’s ambition to be a top-selling bike label?
It’s going really well. As a quick summary of progress, we’ve recently launched new ranges of bikes across our Calver Cyclo Cross, Hartington Vintage, Monyash Road adventure and Longcliffe Aluminium Road series. We’ve announced a partnership with several ambassador riders, including a new Pro Cyclo-Cross Team offering us World Cup level representation.

At the close of 2017 we rebuilt our dealer network from scratch to ensure that we were partnering the right retailers with the best range assortment. Although we have over 100 dealers nationwide we are building the dealer base with patience and careful consideration. The brand is growing quickly and we are now at a point where we can be considered as a genuine alternative to global mainstream brands. Product is available to order across the majority of categories from £300 to £5,000+.

On the horizon we’ve developed a new online bike build configurator to assist with the purchase of any of our UK built models. To support this, we are poised to launch a strong digital media campaign across our road, cross and e-bike categories. This marketing activity will be supported by demo events running almost every weekend from the first weekend of September.

Between now and this time next year we expect to launch 20 new models over MTB, e-bike and carbon road too, so there is plenty to look forward to.

Can you give us any indication as to the health of the BMX market?
We’ve been part of the BMX market for many years, having distributed Haro for 24 years and Diamondback prior to that.

As in all categories of our industry BMX has had its highs and lows, but we’ve persevered consistently following the ‘rollercoaster’. We’ve continued to invest steadfastly in the sport, events and athletes throughout the journey. It’s perhaps one of the reasons why we find ourselves the UK distributor of leading brands WeThePeople, Radio and Salt.

With BMX Freestyle joining BMX Racing as an Olympic Sport in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, opportunities to raise the profile of the sport are numerous. Media build up and coverage will be strong for BMX, and we would say to dealers that now’s the perfect time to be involved.

How has Moore Large enhanced the dealer experience in the past year?
Dealer experience has been very positive so far this year, predominantly due to us not following the omni-channel route to market, as introduced by many of our competitors. Competitors are introducing this to maintain as much control over their brand as possible, whilst also making it as easy as possible for the consumer to buy their brand. We understand the
advantages of this approach, but believe that the process forces the hand of a retailer into particular buying requirements, removing dealer ownership from the sale. Instead, we carefully select our retailers across a clearly defined route to market, and provide them with all the tools and support required to sell. Our offering appears to be very well appreciated, and we’ve seen a resurgence of interest and increased investment from many of the UK’s best independents.

What’s your projection for the UK bike market in 2018 in terms of likely winners and losers? What can dealers do to ensure they’re in the former category?
We continue to see fewer bikes sold in the UK bike market although the average retail price is drastically increasing. Moore Large distributes brands across almost every discipline and price point and we haven’t really identified any losers from our own sales performance. We believe that this may be because Moore Large strives continuously to improve our own business by maintaining or cultivating our market share across as many categories as possible. Moore Large also identified opportunities from competitor brands that are dropping the perceived “losers”, so our numbers are not necessarily an accurate reflection of the current market conditions.

Other than a clear boom in e-bike and cargo type sales every business is different in terms of star performing categories, so it is challenging to provide any specific advice. For dealers to ensure their products are winners they need to make well informed financial decisions and support brands that offer them the control required to run their own business. This will enable dealers to maximise their margin throughout peak season.

A smash hit in your portfolio of late has been Tern’s GSD, which we hear has sold out over and over. What’s your view on the potential for city users and business usage?
We have been studying, researching, and watching the Cargo bike market for a few years in anticipation that the UK would follow European uptake. With this in mind, from the first moment we got to ride the GSD we expected success, but we just didn’t realise quite how much. Tern have developed a product that is so carefully designed and well-considered that the competition have been left standing.

The 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.