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CEO Ton Anbeek: ‘Accell Starts Omni-Channel Roll-Out This Year’

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AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands – After Accell’s announcment of its 2017 financial results last Friday Bike Europe spoke with CEO Ton Anbeek. In this interview he speaks about the roll-out of Accell’s omni-channel strategy in Europe; about restoring the company’s dealer relations as well as the opening of more Accell Experience Centers in various countries.

CEO Ton Anbeek: ‘Accell Starts Omni-Channel Roll-Out This Year’
Ton Anbeek: ‘Dealers’ trust has been undermined. Conflicts were caused within distribution channels by actions of Accell.’ – Photo Bike Europe

When does Accell start with the roll out of the omni channel strategy in Europe and which countries will be the first?

“In the course of this year we start with the roll-out in the first countries. What we want is to offer the consumer the best possible experience and we want to do this together with dealers. It is all about offering consumers good orientation possibilities. And that includes a part dealers can deliver. But it’s also about attracting consumers to Experience Centre’s for this orientation. Currently we have them only in the Netherlands and France but we will set up these up in all the countries we are active in. We are looking for partners for that. In particular as we do not want to run those Experience Centre’s ourselves. We did that with Accell’s 1st Experience Centre in the Netherlands which was a pilot project. New Experience Centers will not be set-up without partners. In particular as we want to involve dealers; to have them handle the retail function. Previously, with for instance Auping Plaza which is also targeting various European countries, I gained experience with involving dealers in such Experience Centers as well as online platforms that score high for customer satisfaction as well as dealer satisfaction. ”

Satisfying dealers is where Accell Group failed in various countries in recent years. Is this something to restore in the near future?

“Yes. Dealers’ trust has been undermined. Conflicts were caused within the distribution channel by actions of Accell. On this subject I have had extensive discussions with many dealers. What emerges from these discussions is for us the need to amend and improve relations with our dealers. In particular as they are and will remain our partners. Things did go wrong; undesirable situations have arisen. I am determined to find a basis that will lead to a restoration of these relationships.

“The basis for that is by creating an level playing field for all. Meaning the same conditions for everyone, both dealers and online shops. Because today’s reality is that online can no longer be ignored. Not when we take the consumer’s position. It is impossible that we, as consumers ourselves, increasingly orientate and purchase online while as soon as it concerns our own business, we try to stop this.

“In order to create this level playing field with equal conditions for both webshops and dealers, we have started the introduction of selective distribution. Accell in the Netherlands has started this for all its brands; Batavus, Sparta and Koga.”

What’s Accell’s view on the fulfilment of online orders for new bicycles and e-bikes? Is this only to take place via dealers or also with workshop-vans, like how Accell is handling this in North America?

“In North America there’s this franchise model run by dealers. They have been able to set-up this particular part of the business by recognizing opportunities in order-processing after online sales. For Europe we have to tackle this together with dealers. In this respect I learned at Auping how dealers think and I have had good experiences with that. There are striking similarities between the markets of bicycles and beds, although it does not seem that way. In both sectors market entry is quite simple and common. Like in many bicycle stores, also in bed stores you see an abundance of products. The consumer does want choice but loses overview with such loads of articles.”

Will 2018 be a transition year for Accell?

“Correct. We are going to deal with commercial matters more firmly. Our regional companies will have to ensure perfect execution of plans which requires a stronger focus. All unnecessary activities diverting their attention from the business will be rationalized, for example as in product development and production.

“In all the markets in which we operate, we are to work on obtaining insights into wishes and preferences of our customers/consumers. The entire organization is to focus more on innovations, on e-bikes, on digitization and on consumer centricity. We want to create the perfect buying experience for consumers. And we want to do that together with partners.”

Does Accell’s new strategy provide in forward integration?

“No, even when there will be more Experience Centers, we want to set them up together with dealers. The retail function remains with our dealers. What you mainly see nowadays is that the consumer wants to be helped. That provides great opportunities which we want to tackle with dealers.

“What is to happen too is that we also want to simplify the doing-business between dealers and Accell. Our aim is to reduce business’ complexity. We will do so through standardization; by reducing delivery programs, by fewer models and the setting up of standard platforms. Reducing complexity, standardization and other issues should result in annual savings of 60 to 80 million euro. Parts of that is to be re-invested in digitization, online platforms and e-commerce. But what counts most in all our plans is my determination to improve Accell’s relationship with dealers.”

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