Rush Sports recently announced the exciting news that it has expanded its footprint beyond Southern Africa with the establishment of Rush Sports United Kingdom. Operations in the UK are being led by Ingo Hilder, a 15 year veteran of the South African bike industry who is currently based out of Cardiff, Wales. Oli Munnik caught up with Ingo to get his thoughts on his new role as UK Territory Manager and the region's robust cycling landscape.
- Howzit Ingo, what attracted you to the idea of working with Rush Sports to kickstart their operations in the United Kingdom?
I've been following Rush Sports' growth and product diversification over the past few years and been impressed with the company's energetic #WeRide culture with the team clearly having found their rhythm both from a sales and communication perspective. After a call with CEO Brandon Els earlier this year it became clear that their product mix and operational strength could be expanded to unlock the UK's potential and I wanted to be a part of this winning team.
- Given your SA experience, what similarities are you noticing between the South African and UK bicycle industries?
I think the most significant similarity is the continued importance and support of local, brick and mortar bike shops, which are owned/run by passionate, friendly bike riders. I am currently in an intensive block of face to face meetings with dealers throughout the UK to meet them personally and introduce them to Rush Sports and our products. UK dealers will have the chance to order via the B2B, but from my experience they certainly appreciate and value in-person visits.
From a customer/rider perspective, like in South Africa, shops I have visited have a loyal base of customers who support their local bike shop, trusting their expertise and technical knowledge. Not to mention riders still want the chance to 'touch and feel' before they buy.
- Over the coming 5 to 10 years, what do you think will drive growth in the UK market?
I think it will be three fold. Firstly Government support will help raise awareness and create the foundation that allows more people to consider bicycles as a means of transport and leisure activity - not necessarily racing, but rather simply the chance to get outdoors. We're seeing a huge focus on bike lanes and bike-friendly infrastructure that will definitely make a lasting positive impact. Secondly E-bikes continue to attract a totally new customer to cycling which will help to maintain growth. Thirdly, we can't ignore the health benefit of keeping fit and active ... this focus is only going to become more important over the next decade.
- Rush's SA team must be eager to hear about how the UK sales function works?
Ja, big time. I'm in contact daily with COO Andre van Aarde and Sales Director Sam Bull with feedback, which is proving invaluable in creating an agile sales function that can adapt quickly, especially when we want to introduce new brands or line items.
- Given Rush's portfolio, where do you see the most potential?
Without doubt the most effective brands that will gain traction, and trust in the UK will be the high quality consumable brands SOX and BAT. Both are proudly South African and well priced to compete with their international peers. Initial feedback from dealers is that BAT's updated packaging is a significant differentiator and will help the range become be a good mover. The various SOX designs have also been well received and the pricing is going to keep other brands on their toes.
Looking ahead, Rush Sports have seen great success with their tyre and tube business (centered around their flagship brand, Maxxis) and I can see that there is potential to translate that energy into the UK market. The same can be said for Signal Bike and Apex.
- Is biltong listed on the B2B for your UK customers?
Haha, I'm pushing for it!!! And of course droewors and some SA braai spices. But biltong is a must!
- How can UK dealers get in touch with you to set up an introductory meeting?
It's easy, they can contact me via the following channels:
At Rush Sports #WeRide