Hope Technology talks lead times, the 'bike boom' and solar power upgrade – CyclingIndustry.News

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Ahead of its appearance at CoreBike next month CI.N caught up with Alan Weatherill to discuss the impact of Brexit on manufacturers, the importance of focusing on sustainability, and what to expect from Hope Technology in 2022…
hope techLast time we spoke new products were on hold to prioritise catching up, has that changed and might shops have missed anything new in the melee?
It’s certainly been difficult planning new product launches around the huge demand for our existing products. The main product we’ve released during the last year is our new clipless pedals. These were released in September and demand, as seems to be the current norm, has outstripped supply. We’re managing to schedule production and current delivery on these is 12 weeks from order. We are slowly managing to increase production so are hoping to begin reducing this.
We’ve also released details of our new Tech 4 disc brake which is due out in Spring 2022 and we’re beginning to schedule these given the current lead times.
The electric bike marketplace has prompted a flurry of specialist products from Hope, how is the aftermarket world in e-Bikes – maturing?
E-Bike consumers seem to be just as eager for upgrades as traditional bike riders, possibly more so. With the high initial cost, we thought e-bike riders wouldn’t have the budget for upgrades, but it seems the converse is true. Also, much of the standard equipment on e-bikes really isn’t up to the additional demands placed on them so our tradition of producing strong, durable components is ideal for this market.
hopetech women's cyclingAnother market that Hope Technology is investing in is growing women’s share in cycling. You’ve launched hopetechwomen.com, what else is going on to equal our sport’s representation?
This is a huge issue which many different organisations and companies are trying to address with varying degrees. The simple answer to this is that none of us are doing enough and it’s not just about promoting women’s cycling. Many sections of society are underrepresented in cycling.
Our Academy and Women’s events were paused during the initial phases of the pandemic but we’re slowly getting them up and running again starting with Academy sessions at local schools.
The supply chain’s problems have left many looking closer to home for kit. How has Hope benefitted on an OEM and aftermarket level?
We’ve always primarily been an aftermarket brand and although we’ve been approached by many OEM during this crisis, we are not prepared to lose sight of the importance of our core customers – indie bike shops.
Raw material remains a hurdle, does Hope remain on top of the demand for metals and carbon?
hopetech carbon
Hope Technology has never operated on a “just-in time” basis for our raw material stockholding. Over the past decade or so all the major manufacturers have been extoling the virtues of “lean manufacturing” to keep costs down. However, they always forget that to keep production lines running without issues, someone in the supply chain has to hold stock.
We significantly increased our raw material stock holding in preparation for Brexit, so with the additional issues caused by the pandemic we still managed to maintain production. It’s still a challenge, but as we order several years in advance, we have things pretty well covered.
With our current order book we could invest heavily and massively increase production, but we’re always very cautious with investments. We don’t see the boom lasting for ever so have worked on a measured approach which has seen us calling on several local aerospace engineering companies and utilising their spare capacity due to the downturn in their sector.
One year on what have been the measurable effects of Brexit on the UK manufacturer?
We’re still waiting for the promised positives but cannot envisage any appearing. We have always exported around 50% of our production split equally between EU and ROW so any changes due to Brexit were going to be important. The only measurable impact so far has been the additional bureaucracy and longer delivery times. At the initial Brexit announcement, we committed to ensuring our EU customers would still be able to trade seamlessly with Hope irrespective of the negotiated deal. With a huge amount of preparation, we managed this and continue to see strong sales throughout the EU. Sustainability reports are another in focus subject for Hope.
We’ve heard about the packaging and materials work, but there’s hope of running on renewables in the pipeline, is that right?
A few weeks ago, our 160kWp solar panel installation came online which helps even on a dull Lancashire day, but realistically it’s never going to run all our CNC machines. Being an engineering company manufacturing metallic parts we’re never going to be the greenest company, but we are making changes where we can. Here are a few examples.
This is an ongoing process for us and it’s great to see more companies becoming aware of the genuine issues. Our biggest frustration is companies stating they’re going “carbon neutral” when in reality they haven’t changed any of their processes and just buy carbon credits!
What do you think the discussion will centre on for Hope Technology come Corebike?
Hopefully an announcement of shorter lead times! By Corebike the new Tech 4 brakes will be shipping out to customers and we’re working on a few products to keep things interesting for customers.
To register for Corebike head here.
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