WATERLOO, WI (BRAIN)—Trek’s John Burke said the company’s decision to roll Gary Fisher into the Trek line was driven by desire to simplify its line and grow sales, particularly in the hot 29er category.
Burke, Trek’s president, said retailers began clamoring last fall for Trek branded 29ers and Dual Sport bikes offered in the Gary Fisher line. “Retailers were asking for that in droves,” he said.
But fulfilling those requests would create unwanted redundancy in the Trek and Gary Fisher product lines, Burke said. “We started thinking, ‘Are we going to develop two lines of 29ers?’ We are going to duplicate a whole bunch of efforts to do that,” he said.
Burke said it made more sense to develop a single line that was best in class. Gary Fisher had the product and brand equity in 29ers but Trek had much broader distribution.
“We do quite a bit of business with the Fisher brand, but nowhere near the volume we do with Trek,” said Burke, adding that global sales for Trek are ten times that of Gary Fisher.
By rolling the Gary Fisher Collection under the Trek brand and making it available to all Trek retailers, Trek stands to dramatically increase retail availability. Trek has three times the number of Gary Fisher dealers in the United States. And with more than 4,000 Trek dealers worldwide compared to 600 Gary Fisher doors worldwide, the brand will gain eight times the potential global distribution.
Burke emphasized the global breadth Trek offers, noting that the majority of Fisher sales are in the U.S. market. Gary Fisher pulled out of Germany, Austria and Switzerland last year because volume was low and demand was weak for 29ers. But Burke said the Trek brand is strong in Europe and gives the Gary Fisher Collection a much bigger platform.
Gary Fisher brand manager Travis Ott said the focused collection eliminates categories that overlapped with Trek’s line, such as kids and path, slims down 26-inch hardtails to reduce duplication and expands its 29er lineup with carbon and women’s models. The end result is a tighter collection, with 51 models compared to 76 models last year.
Burke said the reduction in SKUs and greater simplicity in the product assortment will result in better product availability for retailers, and improve the overall supply chain. Trek also upped its volume projections for Gary Fisher by 46 percent to meet expectations of increased global product demand.
And, he added, creating one dealer program takes complexity out of the business for both Trek and its retailers. “Retailers get the product under one place, it simplifies the story on the floor, and there are better odds that we’re going to have it in stock,” he said.
Bill Randen, general manager of Penn Cycle in Minneapolis, likes the streamlined approach to Gary Fisher. “I didn’t want to see a whole line of Trek 29ers come out to compete with Gary Fishers,” said Randen, who carries both lines in Penn’s six stores. “If they can simplify the line and make it cleaner, without so much duplication, then that makes it easier to buy. It doesn’t do me any good to have a lot of choice for a niche brand.”
For retailers like Penn Cycle that carried both brands, it appears little will change. The Gary Fisher Collection will have a Trek label, but its treatment will remain distinct from the rest of the Trek line.
“For all those people, they didn’t lose a brand; they just go from a brand to a collection. They get in-store support for the Gary Fisher Signature Collection and they have a lot to talk about,” Burke said.
While all Trek retailers will now have access to the Gary Fisher Collection, retailers that were Fisher-only will either be offered the entire Trek line or asked to part ways if they are too near to established Trek dealers. That leaves some former Fisher dealers with open-to-buy dollars for non-Trek brands and competing suppliers are already angling to capture that share.
PHOTO: Gary Fisher and John Burke at a company announcement Tuesday night.