Life, and how we do business, has changed massively over the past couple of months. It’s still anyone’s guess, as to what the future holds. We’ve reached out to some of our friends in the industry to find out how COVID-19 has affected their business. First up, we’ve got Harely Gee, of Shimano NZ, who supply Shimano and a range of brands including Lazer, Pearl Izumi to the New Zealand market.

Firstly, how’s the past six weeks been?
“Very strange, it’s been a crazy time working from home while the situation has developed around us. I’ve been very thankful that I’ve still been able to ride during lockdown, it’s been a vital part of staying sane!”

As we move through this pandemic, what are dealers telling you?
“There’s a pretty wide range of situations from store to store out there, I think it’s been a huge help for our industry that cycling has still been allowed through lockdown. This meant that some dealers could open at Level-4 to supply essential items and then as we moved to Level-3 almost all dealers are open for business and workshops across the country are busy which is great. I think a lot of “non-cyclists” have been getting their old bikes out of the shed during lockdown and they’ve needed a bit of work.”

How has your warehouse distribution and dispatch been affected and what have you done to cope?
“Shimano NZ was completely shut during Level-4, when Level-3 kicked in all staff which could work from home did so that meant only Customer Services and Warehouse staff were physically at work. These staff members also worked in split bubbles to further reduce the risk. It’s been a big challenge for our warehouse team to receive the backlog of incoming stock shipments and then get orders out the door so quickly after lockdown, all whilst essentially operating on half the usual staff.”

You’ve mentioned the cycling trade has had a recent boom before we moved into lockdown?
“Perhaps not before lockdown but definitely during, as always though this is a forever changing thing. They types of cyclists out there have perhaps not been the regular cyclist. Many people have probably been looking for something else to do during lockdown whilst adhering to the guidelines. There has also been a huge increase in the popularity of indoor cycling and this has shaped much of the activity with many stores arranging shop rides to stay connected with riders. Its great to see cyclists making the most of the situation and riding where possible!”

With many people out on bikes do you think there’s increased awareness of cycling?
“I really hope so, what will be really interesting to see is if people who have ridden for the first time in a while during lockdown continue to do so. Of course that would be great, the more people riding the better.”

What types of Shimano products are selling well during this period?
“Wear out part are really the most popular currently, fixing bikes is the priority of course so items like, brake pads, chains, cassettes which are pretty core to Shimano are in high demand.”

How does level 2 and eventually 1 look for Shimano?
“Level-2 is a big step, all staff will be able to work at the SNZ building which I’m really excited about. I like my garage but I just can’t get as much done away from the rest of the team. We still have plenty of measures in place to help reduce risk, our building will still be separated into 2 separate bubbles, social distancing will be in practice at all times and there is increased cleaning and disinfecting of the workstations. Some of this may feel a bit extreme but I think it’s really important that we all push hard to keep the gains we’ve achieved already. Level-1? Haven’t thought about that one yet, one step at a time!”

Thanks to Shimano NZ.