Welsh children’s bike manufacturer gears up for expansion as global demand soars
A children’s bike maker from Wales is gearing up for expansion in anticipation of significant growth through export sales.
Pontypool-based Frog Bike is set to increase its headcount by more than a third following a strong year of international orders.
It is now looking to recruit additional staff across the business, including 15 factory workers and five to ten international reps, to enable it to ramp up production to keep up with this increased demand.
The market leading manufacturer of lightweight, affordable kids’ bikes, has developed an extensive international portfolio since the business was formed eight years ago.
Its products being sold in over 50 countries across four continents, including the USA and Hong Kong.
The Welsh firm has made a global name for itself with its high quality ‘made in Wales’ products, which are designed and built at its Pontypool factory to meet the specific needs and anatomy of children.
Established in 2013 by husband and wife duo Jerry and Shelley Lawson after they struggled to find suitable bikes for their children, Frog Bikes originally planned to focus solely on trade within the UK, but immediate overseas interest saw the company start exporting in April of that year.
Since then, the company has operated internationally and exports now account for 55% of its business and more than half of turnover. The company currently has around 1,800 retailers worldwide, including in America, Canada, Australia, China, New Zealand and a number of European nations.
Most recently, Frog Bikes has secured contracts in Slovakia and Greenland, and is currently looking for new markets. It is also looking to expand its presence in the USA, the world’s largest children’s bike market, where more than three million kids’ bikes are sold a year.
Jerry Lawson, Director and Co-Founder at Frog Bikes, said: “Exporting is a fundamental part of our business and has played a key role in our growth over the last few years. The global market for children’s bikes is huge and offers plenty of opportunities for us, which is why we are looking to place even more of a drive on the international side of our business going forward.
“France, Germany and the USA are particularly exciting markets for us as they are some of the largest in our sector. The children’s bike industry in the USA for example, sells three million kids’ bikes a year, compared to three quarters of a million in the UK, so focusing on these regions will help us continue to grow.
Key to Frog Bikes’ export growth and success has been its strategy to recruit sales representatives on the ground in target countries to identify local stores, organise sales and implement marketing in local languages. Frog bikes also provides bikes to local councils, schools and bike trainers.
In 2016, with the support of the Welsh Government, it moved to a 120,000 sq ft factory in Pontypool to enable it to increase its production capacity and subsequently increase its exports. Today, the factory produces around 300 bikes a day, facilitated by 54 employees working in Pontypool, and a further 35 staff members in the office in Ascot.
‘Since the pandemic’
Since the pandemic, Frog Bikes has seen international demand for its products skyrocket, with pipeline sales for the next year more than double current figures.
Jerry added: “Opening our factory in Pontypool was a defining moment for us as it enabled us to be more responsive to the international market and have greater control over the quality of our products, so we are grateful the Welsh Government helped us with this venture.
“Since setting up our manufacturing headquarters in Wales five years ago, we have received a range of support from the Welsh Government through Business Wales, including financial aid to ensure our presence at major international trade shows, grants to recruit more staff, and help identifying potential contacts in new territories, which is really important for us.
“Over the last few years we have attended trade trips funded by the Welsh Government including Sweden, Denmark and Norway all in the same week. Part of our model relies on trusting our resellers and partners to promote our products so it’s essential for us to travel overseas and build relationships with them, as well as to get expert knowledge on their suitability.”
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This the sort of thing that excites us! Well done Jerry and your team!
I would like to see our acoustic and electric guitar makers think about producing 24″ scale length guitars, which seem hard to get on the world market, everyone else fighting over the 25,5″ scale length variations of Stratocaster/Telecaster type guitars.
Why is their HQ at Ascot? Cwmbran, Newport or Cardiff could have better long term advantages. Are they claiming to be an indigenous Welsh company, or is this another example of branch factory syndrome? I hope when they are successful they will consider relocating their HQ to Gwent.