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Accell Takes Major Step in Creating Level On/Offline Playing Field

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AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands – In its efforts to establish equal conditions for webshops and brick & mortar dealers Accell Group has taken a major step forward. Last week its Benelux subsidiary was able to report that it has won a long legal battle with International Bike Group (IBG), owner of Dutch webshop ‘Fietsenwinkel.nl’ which also operates ‘HelloRider’ webshops in various EU countries.

Accell Takes Major Step in Creating Level On/Offline Playing Field
Accell won long legal battle with International Bike Group (IBG), owner of Dutch webshop ‘Fietsenwinkel.nl’ which also operates ‘HelloRider’ webshops in various EU countries. – Photo Bike Europe

Last Thursday’s verdict by the Amsterdam court in the appeal lodged by IBG, ended legal proceedings that started in September 2015. The verdict enables Accell Group to stop supplying IBG with bicycles and e-bikes under its various brand names.

‘Breach of trust’

In a statement on the court’s verdict managing Director Sten van der Ham of Accell Benelux says “According to the verdict Accell is no longer obliged to supply IBG from 6 April 2018 at the latest. Accell will settle its relationship with IBG as soon as possible.”

Already in September 2015 Accell wanted to stop its business with IBG/Fietsenwinkel.nl. The reason for ending its relations with the webshop was “Breach of trust due to the sudden unilaterally changed course on the part of IBG that previously consisted of the store chain ‘Hans Struijk Fietsen’ and Fietsenwinkel.nl. Accell never intended to do business exclusively with this webshop that focusses on online bike sales only,” said Wouter Jager who, at that time was MD of Accell NL and now is Accell Group’s Marketing Director.

Aggressively advertising low-priced online offering

Next to the “breach of trust” the International Bike Group’s policy of intensively and aggressively advertising its low-priced online offering in e-bikes and conventional bicycles also prompted Accell’s legal actions. In particular as it harmed its relations in other distribution channels e.g. dealers.

On this Accell Group’s CEO Ton Anbeek said in an interview with this trade journal “Dealers’ trust has been undermined. Conflicts were caused within the distribution channel by actions of Accell.”

CEO Ton Anbeek: ‘Accell caused conflicts’

CEO Ton Anbeek: ‘Accell caused conflicts’

Creating level playing field

In order to restore dealers’ trust Accell Group is focused  on creating a level playing field for dealers and webshops. For that the company is currently is rolling out an omni-channel distribution set-up in Europe and in North America. It is based on creating equal pricing in all distribution channels for eliminating dealers concerns on high discounts advertised by webshops. For that the company is in North America changing its price policy from Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Pricing (MSRP) to Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP). Minimum Advertised Pricing is the lowest price a retailer and/or webshop can advertise the product for sale. Not the lowest price they can sell it in their store, but the lowest they can show in print and/or online in an advertisement. It offers protection for manufacturers in particular as ‘advertised’ highly discounted prices brings brand erosion. To enforce equal MAP prices in all distribution channels Accell makes use of a third-party price monitoring service named Oris.

In Europe, currently starting in the Netherlands, Accell wants to create a level on/offline playing field through incorporating selective distribution.

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