October 24, 2009

on sellouts

The legendary component/apparel company Race Face just announced that they will be selling their products to Mountain Equipment Co-op (the Canadian equivalent to REI in USA). This has pissed off their current dealer Cycles Lambert and rightly so, so they will stop distributing Race Face products immediately. Recently MEC announced that they will be adding bicycles to their product lineup along with the current outdoor gear and bicycle parts. This has served as a bit of a blow to independent bicycle retailers in Canada as they believe that MEC possesses an unfair advantage as a Co-operative, since that format is considerably less taxed than other businesses. So MEC is not exactly a favorite among the bike shop owners or anyone in the bicycle business in Canada in general. See open letter from Canadian Cyclist here. In any case this move by Race Face has a lot of their fans loosing faith in the integrity of Race Face and their commitment to their product and their core consumers. In all likelihood they will make more money by making this move but will that be at the cost of quality? Many people believe so and point to MEC's shaky quality on certain things in the past. In any case people are a bit perplexed by all of this if not downright pissed off!

See letter from Lambert below:


Levis, Quebec, October 23, 2009 - Lambert announced today that it has terminated its Canadian distribution agreement with Race Face, effective immediately.

Race Face recently informed Lambert of its plans to sell its apparel, armour and components to Mountain Equipment CO-OP (MEC). Lambert is very disappointed with the decision Race Face has made in this matter. Due to Race Face’s realignment with MEC, Lambert ceased its business relationship with the company.

The importance of specialty retailers for Canadian cyclists is undeniable. Lambert remains firm in its commitment to channels avoiding an every day low pricestrategy which brings down reasonable market pricing. Lambert will continue to privilege brands that support this same business direction.

1 comment:

Kaitlin said...

This is kind of scandalous. I love REI here in the US, and I don't usually mind buying the REI brand stuff. I have a great softshell coat that is REI brand, and it cost less than a Marmot or North Face jacket.

But when it comes to bike parts, there's something to be said for companies maintaining integrity by not selling out. An example that comes to mind is Schwinn...they were once really durable, respected bikes. But now they're owned by Pacific Cycles, and they're sold at Wal-Mart for cheap. Of course you can still get pro race quality Schwinns, but not all of the brand's bikes are quality like they once were.

I'd be concerned that the same would happen with Race Face. Maybe some people can still get quality parts at the very high end, but the rest of us will be subjected to cheap components at MEC or REI.