Freerider’s UK sales and operations director, Paul Fisher, has expressed confidence in the brand’s ability to trudge through Brexit challenges thanks to its close relationship with its parent supplier in Taiwan, which few other UK providers enjoy, he believes.
Fisher said that one of the greatest challenges for mobility providers, relating to Brexit, is that the marketplace is focused on value.
“There’s the issue of cost and we’ve seen quite an increase in cost from a manufacturing and purchasing sense because of the dollar exchange rate. It’s settled a little bit but looking back a few years ago it was much more buoyant.”
But he added that the UK arm is in a “fairly unique” position because it is owned by Freerider Corp’s chairman, Arthur Wang, and stated: “you couldn’t have a closer relationship with your manufacturer as we have”.
“They’re really in tune with the marketplace and that relationship could be different if there was a gulf between us, but it’s not, it’s hand in glove.”
“I can’t deny that Brexit has been a jolt,” admitted Fisher, who knows that the uncertainty of leaving the EU has impacted on all businesses in the sector and will likely throw up more “barriers” down the line.
Overall though, he believes the Freerider relationship “shouldn’t have an issue with Brexit”.
In recent months, there have been few mobility suppliers and importers that have not been impacted by the dollar exchange rate and the affect it has on costs.
Businesses across the supply chain have seen prices increase on equipment but some suppliers claim to be absorbing as much of the additional costs as possible.
Fisher is also confident that the company’s established and “bulletproof” mobility scooters will help maintain steady revenues for both the supplier and its dealer partners.
The company recently launched an improved version of its Mayfair scooter, which Fisher said “gets you from A to B and it does it safely, securely and reliably, and it’s very easy to operate”.
“The Mayfair doesn’t have all the gizmos but it’s an honest, approachable vehicle. Although we’re a Taiwanese company, here [in Keighley], we’re Yorkshire underneath. We’re honest and open and it does what it says it does.”
But Fisher was keen to remind distributors it is still at the forefront of innovation. He drew on the Luggie arm of the business, which aims to be at the cutting-edge of folding scooter technology.
For Fisher, communicating to Freerider’s existing dealer network, and prospective retailers, that the company is much more than “just the Mayfair and Kensington scooters” is one of the supplier’s main challenges.
He assured that innovation is “definitely important” to Freerider. “Understand that we do have a range of other products which are very innovative.
“From our perspective, we have a renowned range of products. The challenge that we’ve got is to expand that knowledge to our dealers and say that we’re not just the Mayfair and the Kensington – we’re a lot more.”