Ask the boss: Windwave’s Peter Nisbet talks trade shows, declining imports and safe infrastructure

Here on CI.N we very often give retailers the chance to tackle the hot topic of the month, but what about the distributors stocking our shelves? This month we place Windwave’s boss Peter Nisbet (third from left) in our hot seat to talk current affairs…

Recently we’ve seen new money coming into the industry from known and unfamiliar sources. Is this necessarily a bad thing and do you foresee pricing stability or more turbulence ahead?

It is very interesting to see VC type companies buying bike shops and distributors. They must see some potential, although market conditions are difficult at present. I imagine they must see scalability as a way of growing their investment, but I wouldn’t see this as quick or easy profit.

In relation to pricing I do not see this as an issue because currently margin has to be maximised.

With cities around the globe adjusting the priority given to transport modes, to what extent should the industry be enhancing its voice to put cycling higher on the political agenda?

It is really important for the Industry to add its support to lobbying government. We lag behind other European countries when it comes to safer cycling for transport and leisure. There is no doubt that more people commute these days, but there’s just not enough safe segregated cycling infrastructure. Travelling regularly around the UK I notice that new road schemes are built and the vast majority without any concession to cycling. We are a long way from where we would need to be to see real growth in commuting, safety is crucial.

With your perspective and given Windwave’s diverse portfolio, what segments of the market present an opportunity and how can dealers maximise the potential?

Strategically it’s important for us to cover both road and mountain biking. We are looking very seriously at commuting and e-Bikes too. Colnago has shown over the past couple of years a distinct increase in sales of our high-end models, especially the C-60. My view is that many of the new cyclists have enjoyed the sport and are now trading up. Many of these new cyclists are buying the disc and electronic versions of these frames showing they embrace new technology.

We’ve seen fantastic growth with Transition too, with riders progressing from mainstream brands to something more niche. We have also seen road riders increasingly moving into MTB.

Modern shops have to entice customers across the threshold. Free bike fitting, if a bike is bought in store, is a definite attraction. Fast efficient repairs and service also brings customers. Once they’re in store there is a good chance they will buy something. It is an old cliché, but it is really important to project the right image and shops must be kept clean, tidy and welcoming. Window displays must be changed regularly and reflect seasonality. Shop rides create a club atmosphere and bring loyalty.

The UK is on course to see one of its sharpest declines in bike imports in well over a decade. Is this cause for alarm, or simply the market adjusting to appropriate levels?

It is a concern that bike imports and sales have reduced. There has definitely been an oversupply, especially of large mainstream brands. In this environment I am very happy our exposure is minimal and we are able to change direction quickly.

As a founding member of the Core Group, what are your thoughts on what the trade show of the future will need to deliver?

Core has always promoted itself as a ‘house show’ rather than the traditional trade show. The aim is to provide a comfortable environment to mix business and pleasure. Interestingly, following input from overseas visitors to Core there are now a couple of other shows run on the same lines. Honestly, I don’t think there will ever be a central trade show again as many companies prefer to have house shows, or attend smaller events. This, I accept, may not be ideal for the shops as it means more time away. We have also seen at Eurobike that many of the big players no longer attend, preferring to run their own events.