Lyon Equipment talks outdoor retail, sustainability and mountain rescue

With roots in mountain rescue, Lyon Equipment knows outdoor gear. Founder Jonathan Capper joins new Cycle Market Manager Jordan Lunn to discuss what the distributor’s knowledge can add to a bike retailer’s businesses.

How’s business for Lyon been through what has been an odd period?

JC: In a word, challenging! During the pandemic business has gone from worrying back in March 2020 to exceptionally busy through the second half of the year. 2021 has carried on with strong business growth and continues positively today. With the growth in cycling in the UK we anticipate strong sales this year and beyond.

The key question on the trade’s lips remains, how are your stock levels now and going forwards?

JL: Like most others in the market right now, stock holding is an ongoing issue. Lyon has worked tirelessly with suppliers to ensure we have what we need on the shelf, to ensure that our customers are supported. Of course, with the continuing matters of shipping, delays in manufacturing and scarcity of raw materials, we don’t have the depth of stock we would typically aim for. We are confident that as these issues ease, we will be back to what we would consider as ‘normal’ as soon as possible.

How has the broader outdoor market fared during this time and are there crossover opportunities for bike shops selling outdoor adventure?

JL: We have seen a huge uptake in consumers ‘staycationing’, meaning a huge influx of new interest in the outdoor sector. Along with this bikepacking is moving from strength to strength which pairs perfectly with our outdoor sector. This is a great time for bike shops to try some outdoor equipment in store as consumers get to know their local surroundings.

You’re well positioned to spot trends in consumer behaviour given the depth of the business – what products are people seeking out to make the most of domestic adventure?

JC: Over the last 14 months we have seen a change in consumer purchasing where end users are buying product to meet the demands of “staycation” holidays. Purchases are perhaps more considered where the customer has carried out detailed research on their new toy. We have definitely seen a growth in sales of high-end products. Additionally, there is a real interest in sustainability of brands and their products. This is particularly the case with Ortlieb.

The growth of web sales has probably been seen across all industries, but is especially true with cycle. We have been fortunate during periods of lockdown that cycle retail was allowed to stay open and with our product range this has been a real advantage for the end user to get the professional advice that our dealers excel in giving.

lyon equipment ortleibYou’ve recently made some big hires across the business – who joins and what experience do they bring?

JC: Over the last few years we have been investing in our cycle division at Lyon and recently we have appointed Jordan Lunn as Cycle Market Manager and Ed Braithwaite as Assistant Cycle Market Manager.

Jordan brings with him a wealth of knowledge from across the industry. He joins us from Ison-Distribution where he worked as International Brand Manager for Halo Wheels and UK Brand Manager for HT-Components.

Ed brings insight from many different areas of the outdoor industry, as well as retail sales and mountain bike guiding and coaching.

As part of these changes Nils Amelinckx is stepping back from his role as Cycle Manager to concentrate on his current health issues. Nils will still be working with us on promotion and marketing.

Where else in the business are you reinvesting in order to deliver a strong experience for your customers?

JC: We are investing in developing our web presence, B2B and social media to ensure that we can give dealers and end users the best possible experience. In addition, we have been investing in a new cycle workshop to provide faster customer service.

With retail and consumer buying habits changing it is said that many shoppers like an experience. How would you suggest bike and outdoor shops adapt to meet this head on with products like yours?

JL: The market is as competitive as I have ever seen it. For shops to stand out in the market as it is now, I feel they really need to offer the whole package. This includes excellent service, an engaging online presence, bespoke services that cannot be offered online (such as bike fitting and suspension set up), a community built around the shop, and unique ranging that doesn’t compete with every other retailer. Combined, this will give end consumers an experience that should be exclusive to that store and hopefully one that sees them become long-term loyal customers.

Not everyone will be aware of some of the behind the scenes charitable and rescue training work Lyon does – tell us about your background here:

JC: Where do I start with this! Lyon has always been passionate about our ability to allow people to venture further and with this vison we have been actively involved for 40 years in working with nearly all the rescue services in the UK. These range from Coastal Rescue through to Mountain, Cave, Mines, Police and Fire and Rescue teams.

Our own manufacturing is actively involved with developing bespoke products for rescue including stretchers, casualty harnesses and lifting bags. Coupled to this, we run our own training school which specialises in training rescue personnel to operate at height in all conditions. To make the training real we own a section of the River Lune Gorge in Cumbria where trainees can practice their newly found skills in real life scenarios. When not running commercial training courses our team regularly respond to 999 calls as volunteer rescuers in mountain and cave emergencies.

gravel lyonThe cycling brand portfolio has been a steady grower over time. What brands have strengthened your offering in recent years for stores who have not checked in?

JL: In recent years we have added Salsa Cycles, Teravail and Arundel to our already exciting cycle sector line up of Ortlieb, Bombtrack, Julbo, Hydrapak and Tubus.

Lyon Equipment has and will continue to focus on adding brands that complement the current portfolio, offer unique USP’s and align with Lyon’s goals and values.

How can a store open an account and what perks have you on delivery, payment terms, merchandising support or other buy in offers?

JL: We feel that we offer a personal approach to cycle distribution with the advantage of typically fantastic stock holding, knowledgeable and personable staff, exciting brands and unique experiences. We hope to work closely with dealers moving forwards with experience days, so that staff can get to grips with our products in the wild. We also have in-house manufacturing for our Outdoor side of the business, so we are also able to offer bespoke POS to certain dealers, alongside our typical POS options.

If you’d like to become a dealer of Lyon Equipment, please email info@lyon.co.uk for account application forms.