Members of cycling forums in this part of the world have written with equal parts admiration and frustration whenever the name ‘Canyon’ has been mentioned in recent years. With its online business model, the German brand has no shortage of eager buyers but has not been ready to enter the lucrative, but complicated, Oceania marketplace.
Now, all of that is about to change. Following direct entries into Japan and Korea in 2014, German bicycle manufacturer Canyon this week announced the launch* of its latest overseas branch office, registered as ‘Canyon Bicycles Australia and New Zealand Pty Ltd’. Cycling iQ contacted Canyon’s Head of Business Development & Business Intelligence, Ward Grootjans, to discover more about what he hopes to achieve ‘Down Under’.
The first Canyon bicycles, released into the German marketplace in 1996, were the brainchild of Roman Arnold of Koblenz-based retailer ‘Radsport Arnold GmbH’. Having spotted the potential for own-brand bicycles earlier than most, Arnold also steered the brand into a fully-fledged international consumer-direct business in 2001. In the almost 15 years since, Canyon has become arguably one of the leading prestige European bicycle brands on the market.
Until now, Canyon products have not been directly available in Oceania, though regional online forums contain numerous stories from diehard brand fans who have found ways around this. Access is now certain to become a lot easier. In launching its Australian and New Zealand operations, Canyon hopes to “provide full support to customers in the region, from service queries to buying advice, in addition to representing Canyon at events from 2016 onwards.”
“Canyon Australia and New Zealand will be up and running this calendar year,” explained Canyon’s Head of Business Development & Business Intelligence, Ward Grootjans, shortly after today’s official media release. “We cannot yet give an exact date or month when we will be live as there are still quite a number of open points to clear. Challenges include logistics, quality, packaging, pricing, portfolio, building, training and an ERP implementation at Canyon Global Level. We are also moving to a new factory. These projects all have dependencies on each other and we want to make sure our customers get the best service from day one.”
Heading up the Melbourne-based operation will be new Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) Market Manager Darryl Moliere, formerly an employee with Australian bicycle distributor Advance Traders. “We will start with a small team from day one”, said Grootjans. “At the moment Darryl is our only employee in Australia but more job openings will follow soon. We will be posting openings in Customer Service and Technical Support soon.”
In keeping with Canyon’s online sales philosophy, ANZ consumers will order Canyon products through the company’s website, with the local office supporting the process from start to finish. “This office will not have a showroom or give the ability to test bikes,” Grootjans points out. “We solve the showroom questions by offering full information online and of course our 30 day try-out period where you can test a bike at your house. No showroom or test-center gives you the possibility to test the exact bike you want to have. We do, and you can even test it for 30 days! We will have a proper office, workshop and warehouse spacing. That means that we focus on customer support on phone/email/chat with part of the team, we have mechanics on board who service our bikes and of course we also coordinate marketing and events from here.”
Though Canyon is an established brand and the ANZ marketplace is replete with sophisticated consumers who are online savvy, Grootjans acknowledges it is a tough playing field in which “growth is definitely not guaranteed”. In the first 12 months of business, Canyon ANZ will therefore concentrate on a selective “sport focused” range that will be re-structured or built upon after sufficient market exposure enables guidance of the product mix. “We believe that we do not need to offer every bike and every platform. However, with our product portfolio choices I am quite sure that we will be able to cover 98% of customer requests.”
Grootjans is naturally coy about his company’s qualitative objective, saying “we target to take our natural place in the market within 5 years. I believe that Australia is used to buying online and that the market already knows Canyon. We want to enable people to ride our bike, enjoy it and stay as a customer. We are not interested to ‘simply make money’. That is also why I believe that being a family owned company and having one shareholder who is also the owner is such a great asset to us. Yes we have profit targets but we can look longer term. Any public company or company with external investors will automatically move to shorter-term targets. Our model is a much more customer-focused model.”
Enterprising Canyon loyalists who have already managed to source a Canyon frame, legitimately, through a friend in the EU or another market, will be relieved to know the new office will also support them. “Of course we support these people,” confirms Grootjans, whilst reminding the market that warranty is restricted to the first owner of the bike. “Customers who had (a Canyon) delivered outside of Australia/New Zealand or picked it up in Koblenz will have the full warranty. We want to make customers happy and keep them as customers!”
*below, the Canyon media release issued today:
KOBLENZ, 29.07.2015 — Canyon is about to enter a new era – and a new continent. The launch of Canyon Australia & New Zealand is coming. Following years of success throughout Europe and beyond, riders Down Under are next in line to benefit from direct access to Canyon bikes alongside full local service and sales support for the first time ever.
Breaking away from the norm is central to everything that Canyon does, whether in bike design or the way the company does business. As a pioneer of direct sales within the industry, orders placed online at Canyon.com will be assembled at the Canyon.Factory in Koblenz, Germany, and sent straight to the doorsteps of riders Down Under. The new team at Canyon Australia & New Zealand will operate out of Melbourne and provide full support to customers in the region, from service queries to buying advice, in addition to representing Canyon at events from 2016 onwards.
Leading the team will be the new Australia & New Zealand Market Manager, Darryl Moliere: “After following the Canyon brand for many years, I can honestly say that I am extremely excited and honoured to be the first Australian member of the global Canyon Crew. Having recently returned from a visit to Canyon.Home in Koblenz it was clear to see that the whole team there, from R&D right through to production and quality assurance, is focussed and driven to create the best bikes, as proven by the numerous awards and distinctions Canyon bikes have received already in Europe. To be able to offer these bikes to the Australian and New Zealand markets for the first time with a level of service that matches the product quality is going to be a new and exciting period for all cycling enthusiasts from Down Under.”
For Canyon’s Head of Business Development & Business Intelligence, Ward Grootjans, the move represents a new challenge: “We have been eyeing up Australia and New Zealand for a number of years and are now prepared for market entry. These two markets have great potential but require a different approach due to the physical distance away from our base in Germany. When visiting Australia a few months ago I was taken aback by how large and engaged the cycling community is. Talking to riders over there it was clear that Canyon will be most welcome! With Darryl on board we have a Market Manager with years of experience and with an open mind on changing the bike industry by introducing a direct seller like Canyon. We are excited to get started and be able to offer the full Canyon experience to our customers from day one.”
Establishing a presence for Australia and New Zealand continues Canyon’s international expansion beyond its European core. Alongside recent arrivals, South Korea and Japan, Canyon Australia & New Zealand becomes the 16th representative worldwide to provide a direct point of contact for local riders. Canyon Australia & New Zealand will be up and running by the end of the year to offer the most sought-after models from the 2016 range. To keep up-to-date with the latest developments subscribe to the Canyon Newsletter or like Canyon on Facebook. Stay tuned for more information…