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Locking Down Pt. 1: Wide Open

Life, and how we do business, has changed massively over the past couple of months. It's still anyone's guess, as to what the future holds. We've reached out to some of our friends in the industry to find out how COVID-19 has affected their business. First up, we've got Matt Whitaker, of Wide Open, who supply a range of brands including POC, Stans Chris King, Deity and more to the New Zealand market.

Firstly, how’s the past six weeks been?

All things considered not bad, I really enjoyed time with the family and getting out of routine. For the team at Wide Open, it’s been a period of adapting to a new way of working. Like many New Zealanders’, the team has readjusted to the lifestyle of working from home and all that comes with it. From Zoom chats to catching up about work projects, to helping kids out with schoolwork throughout the day, to a bit more time for building projects around the house! It’s been a new lifestyle for us to adjust to. With the transition to alert level 3, we had some of the team working at Wide Open HQ and others that could work from home remained doing so. As we move through alert levels and transition back into the workplace we look forward to having the team back together and riding bikes together again!

As we move through this pandemic, what are dealers telling you?

In general dealers have been reasonably positive. Yes, it’s been a pretty challenging time, but cycling in many ways has been celebrated during lockdown - if not outdoors then indoors. It has given many the time and opportunity to reset – to think about new ways to do things, to learn new things, and to reflect on what they enjoy about cycling and reconnect with that.

How has your warehouse distribution and dispatch been affected and what have you done to cope?

The initial lockdown period saw us halt distribution - so we redirected our focus to projects that we could still work on, such as the new Wide Open website. The team worked hard and put plenty of time into this project. It was great for us to have something to look forward to completing amongst the new routine we were adjusting to at the time. As a few weeks passed, we were able to drop ship essential orders, which ran smoothly - I went into the warehouse and dispatched orders every second day.

We’ve heard of a dealers selling bikes before lockdown and servicing being up post lockdown - is this what your seeing/hearing?

Yes, bikes are getting some much needed treatment after the lockdown period - some workshops opened safely at level 3 and have had high demand and that’s still the case now.

With many people out on bikes do you think there's increased awareness of riding?

For sure, I think there’s an increased focus on health and wellness, which has drove people to pull a bike out of the shed that hadn’t been ridden in a while.

What types of products are selling well during this period and how have eCommerce platforms helped sales?

Service based products like sealant and tubeless products have been by far the biggest category for us. What was interesting was the spike in Feedback Sports work stands and tools, for all the home repairs I presume. The comfort of shopping safely from home has been important to many, so we’ve supported retailers e-commerce platforms with drop shipping orders.

How does level 2 and eventually 1 look for Wide Open?

All the staff will be back at HQ which will be nice, it’s been kind of strange working in an empty office. When the time is right we will get out visiting retailers again. Overall, we look forward to getting things back to normal as soon as possible. and. hopefully go skiing when the mountain opens!

As we move into Level 2, we'll continue to bring you stories of how the cycling industry is adjusting to our 'new normal', so stay tuned!


Images: Cameron Mackenzie

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