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Spoon Customs suspends carbon bike production to manage backlog as cycle industry supply chain issues continue

"Selling more of the bikes now without addressing customers who have had to wait too long is not more important than doing the right thing in looking after our existing customers affected by the delays"...

Spoon Customs has announced that it will be suspending the production of its carbon bikes, including the award winning carbon bike, the Vars Disc, to manage the backlog and long wait times caused by "a perfect storm of parts supply chain issues" in 2022. 

The Surrey Hills-based British bespoke bike manufacturer, known for its high quality and eye-catching steel frames, announced the Board's decision yesterday, as the cycling industry continues to deal with some supply chain issues.

The company said: "Following a perfect storm of parts and supply chain issues experienced last year and the resultant delays customers are still experiencing, that it will pause production of its custom carbon road racing frame, Vars Disc.”

The Vars Disc, Spoon Customs' flagship handmade carbon bike, was launched last year and received rather glowing reviews, leading to many people putting their money down to buy one. But the company encountered unforeseen issues on the supply side, which affected front end components and delayed production of some critical frame parts for most of 2022.

While they looked for alternatives, Spoon Customs hoped to deliver the carbon product in just four to six months from the point customers ordered, hoping to have delivered the backlog by May. But in a handful of cases, this hasn't been possible.

> Spoon Customs and Cole Coatings produce bespoke ‘galaxy’ road bike

Commenting on the impact of the measures announced yesterday, founder Andy Carr said: "2022 was hard for lots of businesses, and despite strong demand for our products since we reopened in our new premises in March it’s obvious we’re not immune to the impacts we felt in the previous year. The measures we’ve announced today are tough on us, but right for customers and will allow us to restructure the process.

"The exercise is costed, funded and deliverable but doing the right thing now will have an impact on our business going forward, so some restructuring will likely be inevitable and the business that emerges may not look the same as it does today. Having posted the best quarterly results for 18 months, and in March having broken all sales records in our new purpose built space, we are optimistic that working with our customers in this way means we will have the best chance to continue to build awesome bikes together, into 2023 and beyond.”

The problems which led to the delays were solved in Autumn 2022, said Spoon Customs. The company has also decided to proactively offer a full refund to all affected customers affected by the resultant backlog.

> Will Shimano CUES ease future bike industry supply chain dilemmas?

Other customers who didn't face delays will also be offered alternatives and refunds in a strategy that will allow the manufacturer some restructuring — an action the company hopes will reduce any further impact on their customer’s short summer riding season and allow the team to focus on service, and efficient production of new bike orders over the summer.

And finally, for those who are not in a rush, there will be an option to continue to agonisingly savour the wait, or else indulge in some more immediate alternatives to a Vars Disc from existing stock, or even Spoon's partner brands.

Supply chain issues have been beleaguering the cycling industry for a while now, and it seems that after more than a year and countless speculations of when the issues will subside, manufacturers are still being affected. The huge demand early in the pandemic has now also been followed by slowing demand, falling sales and changes in consumer habits, leading to overstock in some cases. This was the final nail in the coffin for the UK distributor Moore Large, that was liquidated back in March, and led to another large distributor 2pure entering administration in May

In April, we also reported that the Kendal-based online cycling retailer ProBikeKit, that was founded in the 1990s and operated in more than 80 countries, was closing. It's now set to be bought by Mike Ashley's Fraser Group according to reports. 

In February, the Bicycle Association observed the sales slowdown since the Covid bike boom in its annual report, with sales of bikes in the UK dropping to the lowest level in two decades.

The research suggested that mechanical bike sales fell by 22 per cent in 2022, down to 1.8 million units and 27 per cent below pre-Covid levels, and children's bike sales fell even further, to 700,000 units and 28 per cent below 2019 numbers.

The report's author John Worthington, who is also the Bike Association's head of insights, said he expects the year ahead to be "turbulent" and “challenging".

At the beginning of this year, another British women’s cycling clothing brand VeloVixen announced that it was entering liquidation, before being acquired by Stolen Goat's parent company The Herd Group Holdings.

And in March, Shimano, the Tawainese components giant, had claimed that its new unified Shimano CUES groupsets for mid to low-end bikes will "reduce inventory needs and simplifies the servicing process", with suggestions that the versatility and ability to mix and match components across the range could even help to reduce future supply chain issues in the bike industry.

Adwitiya joined in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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clayfit | 12 months ago

Shimano is Japanese not Taiwanese.

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