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06/01/2022

Gallic kit maker goes direct in the UK for 2022

French firm Furygan is one of the classic bike clothing brands, with a strong following in the UK. It’s clothing, especially the leather jacket adorned with the distinctive ‘big cat’ logo, became a familiar sight through the 1990s and 2000s. And in the 21st century, it expanded its range with decent textile kit, at good prices, imported by UK distributor Nevis.

Last year though, Nevis signed a new deal with Italian brand Dainese, and ended its relationship with Furygan. And now, the Nimes-based firm is going direct, with a new wholly-owned UK subsidiary, a British country manager and a new distribution network with logistics coming directly from the Furygan factory. The firm is even setting up a UK-based repair operation to speed up its aftercare and warranty service.

BDN spoke to the firm’s commercial director, Vincent Mahroug, and its new UK country manager Lee Collins, and they both took us through the changes.

“We stopped officially with Nevis in October this year,” said Mahroug. “And we’ve set up a company in the UK, Furygan UK, which is a 100% Furygan owned subsidiary, . Lee has become the company director on the payroll at Furygan UK. And we plan to work directly with key accounts.”

The new firm is moving fast to set up its own infrastructure and logistics network in the UK, probably in the southwest, in the Bristol area. Mahroug again; “We need warehousing capabilities in the UK. Lee is looking for that now, and we want it to be close to a port, so we can have direct import from Asia to the UK to bypass duties. Today we pay duty in France from Asia, and then we need to pay again when we send to the UK. So, we pay twice, which is obviously painful, and we need to streamline this with warehousing in the UK.”

Those plans are already well ahead for 2022, but it will be nearer 2023 before the new importation setup is completely in place. “I hope we will have the warehouse in January, but for 2022 80% of the goods will still come from France, with some direct from Asia.

Mahroug also foresees other benefits to the firm from a UK setup. “We want the company in the UK to manage aftersales and easy repairs, while complex repairs will still go back to France. For communications and marketing we will continue to rely on Motocom, which works well and we are delighted to continue working with them. Having Lee in the UK will be a good way to do more together, increasing the effectiveness of our marketing.”

The move to a direct operation will have several benefits for current Furygan dealers, according to Mahroug. “Firstly, they can now access the full range – Nevis was promoting only part of the range – which is a big plus. And by working directly with us, you can expect a higher commitment from the brand regarding sales development. We have Lee as a permanent representative in the UK, so that is another opportunity. There is no middleman now when it comes to business development.”

Lee Collins added: “Because dealers will be dealing with a UK subsidiary, there won’t be any change, they’ll be ordering in sterling, and that will make life a lot easier, and when the warehouse is set up, dealers will be able to draw on stock from the UK. We’ve just finalised the UK prices, so I can go out and look at getting new dealers on board. Now I have tangible pricing rather than trying to convert from euros.”

Furygan is looking to expand across all its markets after the various Covid-19 lockdowns. Vincent Mahroug again: “We suffered a lot in 2020 because most shops were closed in Europe, where we sell most. Furygan used to make a €15m turnover in 2019. We made mostly the same in 2020, and then in 2021, we pushed sales in a very aggressive fashion, and sales were up 40% to €22m all over Europe.

“In 2021 we made a significant investment in our leather manufacturing in France. We invested in new laser cutting machinery, which will improve productivity by 25% and we also started working double shifts. So, in 2022 we aim to improve sales by 50%.
“We have new products to launch, such as heated gloves and the In&Motion airbag. In France this year, for example, we sold over 20,000 separate airbag units.”

And Furygan has a big place for the UK in these plans. “The idea in the UK is to build a robust business over time,” said Mahroug. “Dainese is making €5-6m in the market, and we believe in a few years we can reach that figure as well.”

“We want to grow and increase market share in the UK,” said Collins. “And to do that we will need new dealers. First we need to get the key players in place, and once we have a good foundation we can build on that and get better coverage nationwide.”

Mahroug sounded a note of caution, though. “We don’t want to work with everyone. What really matters is to work with committed dealers, dealers who want to take part in our adventure! Furygan is a very ambitious company, and we need to identify good partners and grow together, with a long term partnership.”

LEE COLLINS
The new Furygan country manager for the UK market is Bristol-based Lee Collins, who has worked in the trade over the last three decades. He took us through his career so far.

“I live in Bristol and have done my whole life. I started in the motorcycle industry back in 1990 as a YTS mechanic at Bristol Kawasaki Centre. I’ve worked in various jobs within the industry, including running the parts department at Bristol Kawasaki and retail clothing sales at Motorcycle City.

I had a break from the industry from 2000-2005, where I worked in plant hire to gain experience as a field sales representative. And then, when I had enough experience, I came back to bikes! Recently at TranAm from 2014 until November 2021 – first as the brand development manager, then I became national sales manager in 2019.”

Furygan UK
07542 851088
lee.collins@furygan.com