UK based Ribble Cycles has announced plans to bring its range to Australian shores. The British consumer-direct bike brand, which turned over £16.8 million (AU$33,650,000) in the UK the last financial year, is planning to offer its range of bikes to Aussie consumers through its newly redesigned website.
Customers will have access to Ribble’s ‘Bike Builder’, which allows every component to be customised, just as they do in the UK.
“Customers can genuinely order anything they want on the bike, and when I say anything I mean anything. You can choose any saddle, groupset, wheels and even tweak geometry and configuration with different seatposts and what have you,” said Ribble's CEO Jon Owen BikeRadar.
“Our range of parts and accessories range has always been available to Australian consumers, but the primary focus of this launch is bringing our bikes into Australia,” Owen said.
At launch there are no plans to open designated service points or shops; instead Ribble has teamed with Sydney-based Million Miles Events to provide post purchase customer support.
“Say your bike shows up and the derailleur hanger is bent or needs some tweaking, our team on the ground will find a bike shop or mobile mechanic local to the customer to fix the bike, and we’ll cover the cost,” said Owen.
Ribble is hardly the first European outfit to expand into Australia, following as it does behind Wiggle and more recently Canyon. But the Australian market can be hard to crack.
“The Australian retail market is challenging for any business, and this includes bike industry,” Peter Bourke, general manager at Bicycle Industries Australia, told BikeRadar. “When Canyon arrived in Australia it was embraced because it was a brand people were familiar with. For Ribble it may be a bit tougher because the local market doesn’t know them.”
Bourke is also unsure of their direct buy business model, "Excluding Canyon, with our direct-buy brands (Reid, Cell Bikes and Polygon) their bikes occupy a lower price point, and if you’re unsure about a purchase, they have shops where you can go a look at a bike. From what I can gather Ribble's cheapest bike is just under AU$1000, that’s a lot of money to ask someone to spend on a product they can’t feel, or touch until it shows up on their doorstep."
Time will tell whether Ribble Cycles can make a go of it Down Under. Either way, its Australian site ribblecycles.com/au is pegged to launch later this week.