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Major Distribution Shifts to Take Place in Holland

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VEENENDAAL, Netherlands (August 24) – According to the August issue of the Dutch trade journal ‘Tweewieler’ major changes seem to be brewing within the lucrative Dutch bike market. These changes are expected to take place particularly in the distribution of bikes. From way back, independent bicycle dealers (IBDs) have dominated the distribution of bikes in […]

VEENENDAAL, Netherlands (August 24) – According to the August issue of the Dutch trade journal ‘Tweewieler’ major changes seem to be brewing within the lucrative Dutch bike market. These changes are expected to take place particularly in the distribution of bikes. From way back, independent bicycle dealers (IBDs) have dominated the distribution of bikes in the Netherlands and up to now, suppliers of branded bikes have focused exclusively on them. This is where a change seems to be appearing. The dismissive attitude suppliers of branded bikes used to display towards distribution channels other than the IBDs is diminishing. A notable example of this is Giant, which is talking to Halfords Holland about the sale of certain models in the Halfords chain. At first sight, it seems like a storm in a teacup. However, if Giant does actually decide to involve Halfords as a distribution channel, this signifies nothing less than a revolution in the traditional Dutch bike market. For decades, after all, the IBDs have been the sole distribution channel for branded bikes. Specialised dealers have a market share of over 85% of the total sales in the Netherlands. It is this enormous market share that has, up to now, discouraged suppliers of branded bikes from involving other channels. Not only because there was no need, but also because the actual involvement of other channels could result in the IBDs prompting drastic consequences for the brand or supplier involving other channels.
Some years ago, the Dutch bike manufacturer Union (now part of the Winning Wheels Holding) was taken to the edge of the abyss when the IBDs boycotted the brand after Union started using other distribution channels. As well as Giant, there are a number of other brand names in the Dutch bike sector said to be talking to Halfords. These names cannot, however, be confirmed at this stage since many of the discussions are still in an exploratory phase. Only the Giant Holland MD, Ed Hasselman, admits openly to being involved in discussions with Halfords. “There has been a number of meetings and we have visited a few shops. The plan is not to place the entire Giant collection at Halfords, but I don’t rule out the possibility in the future for certain batches or models, which are possibly somewhat out of place in the normal distribution channel, i.e. the IBDs. Not only Halfords, but also other retail chains like, for example, Shell, Albert Heijn (the biggest Dutch supermarket chain) or the NS (Dutch Railroad with outlets at almost all train stations) would be an excellent addition for specific products. A large number of consumers would then daily be brought face to face with our folding bikes and other specials carrying our brand name. I would not be unwilling to place specific models in certain Halfords shops, as long as these are shops that suit our brand.” (JO)

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