Rebecca Morley visits Tandem Group Plc in Birmingham to see the new Electric Life showroom and catch up with group CEO Peter Kimberley
This piece first appeared in the February edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
E-mobility is a topic that no matter what transport sector you’re in, you can’t ignore. With electric cars, bikes and scooters becoming increasingly important as we work out the best way to travel in a cost-of-living crisis, it’s vital for businesses to stay fresh and keep on top of these key trends, and know just what customers are looking for.
I recently travelled up to Birmingham to see Tandem Group, visiting its new e-mobility showroom Electric Life to find out what’s new for the distributor from group CEO Peter Kimberley.
“When I joined [Kimberley was appointed as a non-executive director in November 2021 before becoming CEO in 2022], we were looking at the bigger picture of e-mobility, which is why we span from e-scooters, to e-bikes, to e-motorbikes, to e-golf trolleys,” Kimberley told BikeBiz.
“And that’s just the sector that we operate in, but we’ve got to look at all demographics and all people. Fortunately, as a business, we operate in those areas, so it makes sense to continue to progress forward with e-mobility. But it is about looking at the whole generation of people who use it, and what do they use it for?”
The distributor has also partnered with brands such as Orbea, Whyte and Quella, the latter of which was announced last month. And in November last year, Tandem opened its new specialist e-mobility showroom in Birmingham, Electric Life, offering a range of e-mobility brands from its portfolio including Dawes, Li-fe, Claud Butler and Falcon.
A dedicated area of the showroom also boasts a range of e-mobility scooters from brands including Pro Rider, Pride and Roma, across all mobility vehicle classes. Pro Rider electric golf trolleys are also on display. On what he’s most proud of recently, Kimberley said: “It’s an honour to be working with the team I’ve got.
“We’re proud that we’ve achieved many things over the last few years. Extending our dealer network, that’s quite exciting for us and we’re progressing well with new customers. The warehouse is a huge thing for us, to make us able to be efficient and the service we can then offer to our customers.”
So what should we look out for from the industry in 2023? E-bikes will continue to evolve and grow, said Kimberley, and e-cargo is an area that’s got potential for growth. But another form of mobility that Kimberley is hoping to see more of is e-scooters.
“The Government needs to pay particular attention to our current transport network and affordability. We’ve had trains on strike [at the start of January], how are people meant to get to work? Scooters is the answer for that last mile, to get from A to B.
“And, personally, I think that needs to move up the agenda, to at least work through the legalisation of scooters. It’s massively important. I agree they need to be regulated and controlled, however, I think it all needs to speed up, to make it a legalised product to use and a safe product to use.”
“We have a crisis at the moment with affordability,” continued Kimberley. “We have a crisis with our transport systems being on strike. We need to move this forward. For me, let’s decide what the legislation should be around the scooter – speed limits, helmets or not helmets, what that scooter should consist of and legalise it.
Things can be done, we’ve seen that with Covid. If we need to make things happen, we can make things happen. I’d like to work more with the Government to help them understand e-scooters and how they will be used. We’ve got the wealth of knowledge and we’re prepared to share it.”
Tandem is well placed to look at the future, Kimberley added, with the distributor set to open its new 80,000 square feet warehouse at the end of January/early February. “That helps because we’ve now got a state-of-the-art distribution network, all in-house. We manage it all.”
Looking to the future, Tandem Group is aiming to grow its distribution network, to work with brands themselves, to be a first-class distributor and deliver great products, great content and services from the office to the end user.
“I always say running a business is no different to running a house. If you can’t afford it, you can’t have it. If you do want it and you can afford it, you need to work out how you can afford it. There’s a lot to do and it is going to be tough, there’s no doubt about it. But I do believe we have great products, we have a fantastic network, and a fantastic dealer base as well.
“From my point of view, it’s also about supporting change with legislation and helping that along as well. It’s not just about selling products, it’s about supporting change and being part of change, as well as doing all the cost-efficiency things we’re doing in our business like moving away from third-party warehousing, bringing it all in-house.
“The world is evolving by the month. It’s just keeping on top of those changes and seeing how the consumer comes through these changes we’ve got ahead. It’s still very uncertain times. At the same time we are working on new product development. We do have some new innovative product development that we’re working through.”