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Bike industry turmoil continues as Forme bikes and Lake cycling shoes distributor enters liquidation

The news comes less than a year since the distributor's board directors bought the business from the Moore family...

More evidence of challenging times for the bike industry as Moore Large — the UK distributor for brands such as Tern Bicycles, Lake, Forme, ETC, Emmelle and MeThree — has entered liquidation.

road.cc has contacted Moore Large for comment and there has been no official word from the brand, but the news was first reported in a post on LinkedIn by Greg Connell of InfolinkGazette who notes the distributor "filed a Notice of Appointment to appoint an administrator in the High Court" on Monday.

Prominent active travel journalist Carlton Reid has since tweeted about the situation, saying: "Went last night. Staff meeting today at 10am. All redundant. 20 staff being kept in accounts and admin. Company cars being collected today."

_Lake CX238 Road Shoes

The company formed from the bike shop opened by John Moore in 1947, the Derby-based distributor was founded 30 years later and owned by the Moore family up until last year when, following growth since the pandemic, the board's directors bought ownership from the family.

Dale Vanderplank, Adam Garner, Adam Biggs and Andrew Walker acquired the business on 19 April 2022, retiring chairman Nigel Moore at the time saying the "last few years have been particularly successful and it is now the right time for me to hand over the company to the existing management team".

"The company is in excellent shape and has limitless opportunities with development of proprietary brands Forme and ETC and as being UK representative for many premium global brands. The new owners will enjoy fantastic support from a world class workforce, and I am confident together, they will enjoy great success," he told Cycling Industry News just 11 months ago.

The picture today could not be less positive, the distributor of many well-known brands no longer a player in the cycling industry, the latest British brand to suffer during challenging times for many.

Tern NBD-23

Just last month the Bicycle Association's Annual Market Data Report for 2022 showed that UK bike sales have fallen to their lowest level in 20 years.

Combining sales figures and other data the Association's research suggests that mechanical bike sales fell by 22 per cent in 2022, down to 1.8 million units and 27 per cent below pre-Covid levels.

> UK's cycling market and infrastructure "being left behind" by Europe, experts warn

Those figures backed up Halfords' trading statement for the third quarter of its 2022/23 financial year in which, the UK's largest retailer of bicycles and accessories, said that the cycling market is down 20 per cent year on year, with the cost-of-living crisis hitting consumers' demand for high-ticket, discretionary purchases.

There have been redundencies too, at Strava and Wahoo in December, while Specialized slashed one in 12 jobs at the start of the year. Just last week it was revealed that Zwift had made a fresh wave of redundancies, with 15 per cent of workers laid off.

Last month, Look mum no hands! London's iconic cycle café closed, citing rising costs, the ongoing impact of Covid on hospitality businesses and a change in work patterns for a "significant reduction in turnover".

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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17 comments

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matthewn5 | 11 months ago
0 likes

Shame, I was just admiring a Forme Monsal in a shop window the other day, with its brilliant 9/10 review on road.cc:
https://off.road.cc/content/review/bikes/2022-forme-monsal-1-review-9983

 

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Jimmy Ray Will | 11 months ago
3 likes

I can't help but feel that the classic distributor model is on borrowed time. Manufacturers commit their distribution chain to purchase x amount of products, which they are then forced to sell on to their dealer network. Dealers are left taking stock which ties up their credit lines, reducing their ability to move with the market. 

Then towards the end of each year, with manufacturers looking to offload another batch of gear to their distribution network, everyone down the chain is forced to sell off existing stock cheap, so no one in the chain apart from manufacturers make any profit.

It's not healthy business.

Post pandemic, I can see there being an acute problem for many distributors. When supply chains were disrupted, many distributors made hay... 'if you want stock, I need you to commit to x more units, or I'll need to give that stock to someone else'.

Great for the distributors, they sold loads! However, this has led to many retailers currently sitting on significantly greater amounts of stock than usual. So retailers aren't needing to spend with distributors so much, and even if they needed too, many have limited cash / credit to do so.  

And that's not even starting on current consumer reluctance to spend cash, coinciding with the greatest uplift in product pricing I can remember in my time. It's ugly.  

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kil0ran replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 11 months ago
1 like

Giant reported results this week - sales strong for the mid to high end (and ebikes), catastrophically bad at entry level. Loads of unsold stock even from 2021 models (I just bought a brand new '21 Revolt Advanced) and plenty of inventory of current year bikes in all sizes.

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kil0ran replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 11 months ago
2 likes

Having recently bought a bike and accessories direct from Giant I have to say I've been impressed by the end to end process which effectively cuts out the dizzy. Bike ordered direct to home or to a local dealer, same with accessories. It meant I got a bike quickly at a good price and visited an LBS I wouldn't normally be a customer of. So everyone benefits apart from the distributor in the middle.

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Rik Mayals unde... replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 11 months ago
2 likes

You're correct. My friend owns a bike shop. He has to order a set amount of frames or bikes.He waits months and months for them. if they turn up, they're quite often arriving months late, and after a new bike has been announced, so they are effectively out of date before they're out of the box. Then, they appear online massively discounted. It's madness, and very unfair on dealers. How can they compete? 

 

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mark1a | 11 months ago
1 like

Shame to see this - although odd that the company was in "excellent shape" at the time of the MBO and then they're calling in the suits 10 months later. 

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Jetmans Dad replied to mark1a | 11 months ago
4 likes
mark1a wrote:

Shame to see this - although odd that the company was in "excellent shape" at the time of the MBO and then they're calling in the suits 10 months later. 

The company was in excellent shape, according to the guy selling it to fund his retirement ...

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Rik Mayals unde... replied to Jetmans Dad | 11 months ago
2 likes

It's not his fault. The company was in very good shape, but when you borrow millions to fund a management buyout on low interest rates, they only need to rise a little and you're in the shit.

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Robert Hardy replied to mark1a | 11 months ago
2 likes

Family business with relatively low borrowing, sold to it's management with money borrowed against the business, for a price that the business evidently didn't warrant. Tragedy for the workforce, if it hadn't been for the capitalisation, most of them would still have a job.

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KDee | 11 months ago
1 like

This is really sad to read. Moore Large was a supplier at my LBS when I was a weekend lad in the workshop. Built up countless Emmelle Cortinas and Dolomites back in the 90's...those things sold themselves.

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ChuckSneed | 11 months ago
0 likes

People don't want to spend their hard earned cash on overpriced 'boutique' junk. They want something they know is good with high performance to match. Forme offered none of these

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joules1975 replied to ChuckSneed | 11 months ago
4 likes

Forme were maybe not particularly good value, but Moore Large were not just about Forme - if you saw their supplier catalogue you'd see everything ranging from very cheap basic accessories such as lights and bells through good value everyday workshop focused parts to 'brands' you might recognise such as, among a large number of others, Forme, WeThePeople, O'neal and Tern.

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muhasib | 11 months ago
2 likes

I was watching the cycling on Eurosport at the weekend and they are still broadcasting the Go daddy advert for creating a website for Look Mum no Hands!
I've been in shutdowns at well established companies as a contractor and it always has been saddest for the long term shopfloor employees on the payroll who are hit hardest.

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BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP replied to muhasib | 11 months ago
1 like

I've heard that Go Daddy advert a few times in the radio over the past month. I wonder if the advertising slots were already purchased so the adverts roll. The problem is if somebody checks out the LMNH website and see's that it is closed down it's not a great advert for Go Daddy either. 

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slitemere | 11 months ago
0 likes

Big brands will be snapped up by other distributors, in house brands like Forme and ETC will probably disappear along with Moore Large, unless administrators sell the business as a going concern. This is sad for all concerned, but also sign of how much current cost of living is hitting everybody

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open_roads | 11 months ago
0 likes

It's a shame to see Forme bikes go - the range was pretty good with some nice design touches and very much geared to Uk riders / conditions

Commisserations to the staff who have lost their jobs so unexpectedly - that's a terrible thing to experience.

Likewise the previous owners will be kicking themselves watching a business they spent decades building failing only 12 months later.

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Robert Hardy replied to open_roads | 11 months ago
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If they fund the redundancies of their former employees out of their windfall then I will raise them a toast, otherwise they wont be kicking themselves, they will patting themselves on the back with cynical smug self congratulation.

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