Amid the chaos and uncertainty unleashed on the economy by COVID-19, Specialized Bicycles Africa has taken significant steps to support their employees, retail partners and customers during this 21 day lockdown period.
The steps taken to support Specialized Bicycles employees, retailers and end consumers- the riders, are four-fold. The company has given all of their 26 independent bicycle retailers, representing small and medium sized businesses, across South Africa, Namibia and Mauritius a payment holiday. For the next four weeks no payments are being made on monies owing against products received.
It supports retailers financially who invest in their stores by covering one third of the total spend of their store and financing another third via an interest free retail loan. It has additionally given all retailers a four-week payment holiday on these retail loan repayments.
Specialized Bicycles saw the crisis looming and decided to action a massive sale whereby products were sold to retailers below their cost, enabling the retailer to maintain their full up-front margin, and ensuring retailers could keep their businesses afloat with a potential lockdown looming. This not only assisted its retail partners, it also provided riders with unprecedented discount prices across bicycles and equipment.
The lockdown happened faster than expected and the momentum of the sale was impacted, although riders can still place orders digitally via the retail stores. These discount prices will remain in place post-lockdown despite the currency devaluation which has resulted in part from the unfortunate news that South Africa has been downgraded by Moody's.
Lastly, Specialized Bicycles have informed all of their employees that they will receive their full salaries during this 21-day lockdown period and thus removed some of their anxiety.
According to Managing Director Bobby Behan:
These massive steps have certainly impacted our business, however, we hope that in taking these extreme measures, our retailers are best positioned to survive this crisis and as an added caveat riders can avail of these amazing deals. We collectively hope that this support is sufficient and that the 21 day lockdown is just a 21 day lockdown!
The steps have been welcomed by retailers across the country.
This has helped me to look after our people to a way better degree than what I would have otherwise been able to. Thank you to the team at Specialized Africa for always having our back!
André Terlouw, Lynnwood Cyclery, Pretoria
As a cycling retailer, our biggest cashflow burden is paying our creditors, followed by staff and fixed expenses. During this time of massive uncertainty our number one priority is ensuring our staff are financially supported, so that when this is all over we can hit the ground running and service our customers cycling requirements. The payment holiday offered by Specialized takes a massive amount of pressure off and gives us room to focus our remaining cashflow where it’s needed most. Thank you to the Specialized family, let’s all stay safe and get through this.
Richard Coram, Freewheel Cycology, Cape Town
We have been extremely lucky being part of the Specialized family during this trying time. With Specialized granting us a month payment holiday, we have been able during the 21 day lock down, to look after the people who make our store what it is, our staff. The Specialized Team took it a step further, by reducing prices below cost in order to help the most important part of our #bikefamily, our clients who at this time, are in the same predicament financially. We remain confident that as a team we will be stronger together, and once we get through this we will pedal the planet forward.
Charl Stander, Concept Cyclery, Ballito
To conclude, Managing Director Bobby Behan has the following message for South Africans:
We would like to thank everyone in South Africa for their support over the years and hope that every resident of South Africa endures this crisis and comes out stronger on the other side. Our message to everyone is to find time each day to do some simple exercises in order to remain healthy in mind and body, to stay safely at home and most importantly to remain positively forward focused. Lastly, make time for your loved ones be it over video, a simple phone-call or text message. More now than ever, we need to pull together; our loved ones and neighbours need us.