Scottish businesses gearing up to target £853 million UK market for mountain biking accessories

Business innovation event aims to bring new Scottish cycling products to market

Over 50 companies are coming together today (Thursday 1 March 2012) to identify how they can collaborate to bring innovative, new Scottish products and accessories to the global mountain biking sector. Purchases of biking accessories currently generate £853 million for the UK economy, resulting in total retail sector sales of £2.47 billion (British Cycling Economy report from LSE).

The event, called ‘Celebrating Scottish Innovation in Mountain Biking’, is being held at the Glentress Mounting Biking Centre near Peebles and is hosted by Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Mountain Bike Development Consortium (SMBDC), Sporting Chance Initiative as well as further and higher education institutions.

Two examples of business people already tapping into this growing accessories sector are Jim McFarlane of Endura Ltd, and Chris Ball, who has a career steeped in mountain biking and sports sciences.

Jim McFarlane, managing director of Endura Ltd, started making shorts on his kitchen table in 1992. He now runs the UK’s leading cycling apparel company from its base in Livingston. With over 30,000 square feet of manufacturing and distribution to manage in the UK, as well as facilities in the US and China, Jim also finds time to run Endura Racing, which he believes makes him well placed to brief his product development team on new opportunities for the business.

Chris Ball, has a first class honours degree in Sports Sciences from Edinburgh Napier University, and has an enviable track record in competing in his own right. Chris also coaches the Scottish National Downhill Squad, is a founding coach of the Borders College Downhill course and is also a director of Dirt School. With his close links to Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), Chris will be talking about where mountain biking is going and where Scotland can position itself.

Growing Scotland’s share of the £853 million global biking accessories market is the aim of the event. To do this, companies need to develop innovative new products that meet a real market demand from recreational and professional mountain bikers. They need to market these products to the right people at the right time, and potentially find companies to collaborate with to bring the right raw materials, processes, skills or knowledge to a new venture.

Product development could cover areas such as clothing, cycles, performance technology, sensor technology, digital media, functional food & drink. The event showcased new developments in clothing, food & drink, lubricants and bike parts as well as services that are being developed for mountain bikers, such as alternative therapies,.

David Smith, director of Innovation at Scottish Enterprise, says, “Mountain biking currently generates £119 million a year for the Scottish economy, with market share predicted to increase to £155million in the next five years – it’s on target to become Scotland’s most popular adventure activity after walking.

“By bringing together a diverse range of companies to look at where these new product opportunities could come from, we can encourage innovative, quality, Scottish-made accessories that demonstrate why Scotland is a global destination and centre of excellence for mountain biking.”

Alison Denny, Project Manager, Sporting Chance initiative comments, “It's not usually a lack of great ideas or brilliant people that impedes innovation; the main barrier is getting to know the right people. I believe this event will provide a vital opportunity for businesses to hear from some of the industry’s key players, see how they have successfully managed to produce products and services for the mountain biking industry and network with other like-minded businesses.”

From trail owners and trail leaders, to bike builders and backpack suppliers, the event is designed to encourage collaboration and innovation between existing mountain bike product manufacturers, existing product manufacturers that might not produce anything for the sector, and entrepreneurs with ideas to explore with attendees.

A number of Scottish companies already making a success in the mountain biking accessories sector will be talking about their experiences and showcasing their products.

Scotland is recognised as one of the world’s leading locations for mountain biking, and was rated as a Global Superstar by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Recent figures show that more than 1.3 million visits are made to Scotland each year for mountain biking, nearly 600,000 of which are to sample purpose-built trails, such as the world class 7stanes in the South of Scotland.

Notes to editors

Sporting Chance Initiative (SCI) is Scotland’s hub for business innovation in sport. It is the only support organisation in Scotland dedicated to sports innovation. Media contact: Keri Eksteen, Communications Manager (t) 01786 458090 (e)

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