I wanted to send you a standalone communication about club kit.
I know there has been some discussion on this on the Club Facebook pages and also as direct feedback to members of the committee, and I wanted to address these points and give some of the rationale behind the decision we took as a committee. I also want to acknowledge that the communication around this has been poor. This was not intentional but the Club is run by volunteers who have busy lives and we collectively dropped a ball here.
Kit has been a difficult issue for committees over the years and the model we have used to date is to order in kit and keep it in stock if possible. However this has significant issues for the club. Given the range of stock that people want to buy and the number of sizes required in both men’s and women’s has led to a large part of the balance sheet being tied up in stock, and there have had to be significant write offs of kit costs in the accounts when we changed supplier or design, or just because the estimates of how much would sell were not achieved. At the year end last year despite being out of stock of a number of sizes of kit we had approximately £10k of stock.
I appreciate in an ideal world we would operate like a shop and have all sizes in stock for anyone to buy at any time, but the cost and logistics of this need to be weighed up against the other priorities we have as a Club. We were facing significant cost increases from our current supplier – aero suit prices from 2XU were increasing to around £180 per suit for example. There are minimum order volumes of 5 per kit item per gender with 2XU so just to buy one of each size for men and women is nearly £2k, and there is a 3 month lead time to restock. We have also had feedback from members that while the 2XU kit is popular it is not particularly premium quality. It is this issue and specifically Club trisuits that led to us deciding to review other options. I should also point out that the ever popular Club hoodies and track suits come from a local supplier and those arrangements haven’t changed.
In the last few years there have been a number of new and innovative suppliers emerging who provide custom kit shops for sports clubs. These allow members to choose from a larger number of options, without the club needing to carry stock of all the options in all the sizes.
We assessed four suppliers initially including continuing with our current supplier 2XU. The key determining factor was to have a comparable offering to the current 2XU pricing for an aerosuit, and in the end we obtained two comparable quotes from suppliers before deciding as a committee as a whole to go with the NoPinz, a small independent UK based supplier from Barnstable in Devon. Their solution includes a custom option of the Pro-1 Road Skinsuit (OXFORD TRI CLUB) – Nopinz with a triathlon chamois for the same price (£160), which is actually cheaper than the 2XU equivalent product and available on much more flexible terms (ie no minimum order size and Club members can order what they want at any time, plus the Club doesn’t have to tie up capital in stock which might never be sold).
I agree it is a bit confusing as there is such a range of price points of tri suits on the site, most of which are at the premium end (and it’s listed most expensive first, we will try and get that changed) and you need to contact them specifically to get the triathlon chamois (all their kit is custom made so they are happy to do this). They are great on the phone or you can email from the site link above with model and size info, M/F and a shipping address.
It is important that we do listen to Club members about matters as important as the branding and kit choices, especially if some members are unhappy with the committee’s decision here. I firmly believe that the previous kit supply arrangements weren’t really delivering and this route is better all round for us as a Club. We are going to arrange a session for members to come and look at some kit samples and provide further Q&A and advice on ordering the kit which I appreciate is an expensive and fairly daunting experience on top of all the other challenges of training (and paying for) our triathlon obsession.
Any questions just shout – and as ever please feel free to browse the kit section of the website for a selection of items we keep in stock.
Nick Wenban-Smith – email@example.com