IN the nine months since Advance Traders started, the Brisbane-based bicycle supplier has expanded to more than 135 stores and will continue to pedal solid growth, according to general manager Andrew Garnsworthy (pictured).
Garnsworthy says the company, acquired by Flight Centre
in July 2008, has been able to capitalise on the biggest bicycle boom in the country’s history.
“I’m definitely happy that we’ve capitalised in the market, but this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential for expansion of the business and the product,” he says.
“Bikes have been outselling cars for close to a decade and the combination of petrol prices, concern about climate change, traffic congestion and the desire for healthier lifestyles have contributed to the growth of cycling. This growth is more pronounced in the inner-suburban areas of Australian capital cities where people are opting to cycle to work because of improved facilities such as expanding bikeway networks.’’
Garnsworthy says the current financial climate is also driving a shift towards cheaper transport alternatives such as bicycles.
“At a difficult time for all businesses in Australia, our outlook is highly positive with no sign of any downturn in demand for bicycles and cycling accessories,” he says.
Advance Traders is the Australian distributor for the Taiwanese company Merida, which manufactures carbon bike frames designed in Germany. The company offers a wide range of stock, ranging from $300 bikes to $10,000 high performance cycles, as well as accessories.
Garnsworthy says while a low Australian dollar has made importing products difficult, the Merida brand is on the rise.
“The low dollar has increased a lot, with the costs of bikes going up 30 to 40 per cent, but to stay competitive we have only increased our prices by 15 per cent,’’ he says.
“This is allowing us to have other shops we haven’t traditionally done business with call us up saying the product is so good, the price is so good, and this is leveraging the business.
“But with 1500 bike shops in Australia, we’ve only got a small portion of the market, and we’re going to keep looking for good partners that can grow with us.”
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