Organic Growth Masterclass: Ribble Cycles, backed by True
Redefining the brand, enhancing the customer experience and working with teams have all helped to drive organic growth at Ribble Cycles, says Will Pearson, Portfolio managing director & CFO at True.
True first invested in Ribble Cycles in late 2015. At the time, it was an online only direct-to-consumer business predominantly selling bike parts, accessories, clothing and nutrition. The own brand bike offering, which was established in 1897 and had an unrivalled customisation optionality, was actually a smaller aspect of the business at this point, and had seen a relative lack of investment.
REDEFINING THE BRAND
Will Pearson, Portfolio managing director & CFO at True, says: “We really wanted to focus on the definition of the Ribble brand, and then on how to regrow that. There was also an opportunity to redesign and reposition the bike offering. There had historically been a focus on road bikes, but we saw that that category alone was quite narrow.
We took on some of the more premium bikes, and then went on to develop into adjacent sections like hybrid bikes, mountain bikes and in particular, e-bikes.”
ENHANCING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Will Pearson says: “Upgrading this experience started with changing how the bike is selected and purchased, and then we focused on making the customer journey more similar to how you would purchase a luxury car. For the website, the business had been using the site as a functional sales portal, but we wanted a much more brand-led experience. We wanted to utilise the credibility and authenticity around the actual product to create desire among potential customers.
We’ve also created five brand immersive showrooms, unlike any bike shop you’ve ever seen before, and through “Ribble Live” technology, we’ve also brought this showroom experience back to the website.”
WORKING WITH TEAMS
Will says: “The business was a family-run business who were stepping away, having taken it on in the early ‘90s, so there was a natural opportunity for us to bring in new talent. We wanted to hire people with real expertise in the sector - with particularly strong product knowledge, who could take on an R&D lead to the transition, as well as being brand savvy.
We brought in a CEO, chief digital officer, commercial director, and a new head of product - who was an ex-World Tour pro cyclist himself, so we knew he’d have a fantastic understanding of the products. They also recognised that outside of the management team, within the company, there was a whole wealth of passionate cyclists, who had great experience of purchasing bikes, even if they weren’t fully involved in the development of the business. The workforce, therefore, became advocates and ambassadors for the brand. That’s really empowering from a cultural perspective as well, as the team understands the customer journey, and they’re having a really positive input into that.”