As cycling becomes increasingly popular in the UK and all over the world, the demand for new products, new technology, and most importantly, new infrastructure has come to the fore. With more and more cyclists joining our roads, the debate over cycle safety and the relationship between motorists and cyclists has made news headlines all over the nation.
Co-founder of the internationally acclaimed cycling and sports brand Proviz, Anthony Langly-Smith, recently discussed the company’s place within the sportswear market, the current state of cycling in the UK, and their hopes for its future.
How would you describe the cycling scene in the UK at present? Have we genuinely had a cycling revolution in terms of participation?
I really do believe we have. Cycling is everywhere, all you need to do is read the press, see all the races and events, see the huge brands aligning with cycling. When I commuted by bike 15 years ago there were a handful of people at the traffic lights, now sometimes you can see 30-40. In the countryside, every road has a steady stream of cyclists out on their weekend ride. You turn the TV on or read the papers and regularly see stories about how London is trying to create better infrastructure for cycling. It is fantastic to see as there are so many benefits.
What would you like to see improved for cyclists in the UK in the months and years ahead?
I do think more cycle lanes are imperative in cities. I think you need that definitive physical divide between cars and cyclists on the road, rather than trying to share them. What they have achieved in Copenhagen; with harmony on the roads and cars and cyclists respecting each other, that is the ultimate aim.
Creating more dedicated cycling lanes is an important goal for the UK, according to cycling sportswear expert Anthony Langly-Smith.
There have been quite a few high profile cases of road rage against cyclists in the UK media in 2015, with videos filmed by the cyclists themselves going viral online. Do you think cyclists should always wear body cameras for safety? What are your key tips for cyclist wishing to avoid road rage and stay safe in general?
I don’t think they need to wear body cameras, but I would say that cyclists need to wear a helmet and not go through traffic lights. One thing I would suggest, especially in busy areas of traffic, is not to wear earphones because staying aware at all times on roads, whether in central London or the middle of the countryside, is of paramount importance.
The reflective capability of our REFLECT360 material helps other road users to identify a runner or cyclist’s position on the road at night.
Tell us about the origins and growth of Provizsports.com
It all started in a small flat in London in 2009. At the time we were working in corporate jobs and it was during our daily commutes by bike that we realised the limitations of the products we were using. We identified a gap in the market to provide highly innovative, light-emitting and reflective cycling products and wanted to build a brand that would address this need, synonymous with innovation, performance and being highly effective.
Most importantly, the desire was to create products that customers loved and that made a difference in their lives. Inspired by our experiences (good and bad!) and with no prior retail or product manufacturing experience we designed five innovative cycling products. We then got a distribution deal in the UK with the largest cycling distributor and this is where it really started.
The first product that drew customer’s attention to Proviz was the innovative Triviz Lighting Device, a unique versatile electroluminescent light pack which attaches to the Nightrider Range. The product won a Red Dot Design award for Product Design which helped gain recognition in key countries around the world.
The launch of the REFLECT360 range in 2014 has been the most successful range to date. A totally unique range of products, made from 100% reflective material, which is a modest grey during the day and highly reflective at night. This range uses the very latest in reflective technology and was featured in many of the key trade and national publications which helped give the brand fantastic exposure.
The Switch and Pixelite Performance ranges that launched in July 2015 were designed as a result of this success. The ever-increasing range has expanded to other sectors including the Running and Outdoor markets and the products are now distributed globally in 35 countries including USA, Australia, Germany, China and Scandinavia and sold in some of the world’s best-known retailers. This expansion has mainly been driven organically due to demand and customer requests and retailers like the fact that Proviz is a specialist brand in what we offer.
Proviz is driven by our passion for the brand which filters through to the rest of the Proviz team. The journey to date has been incredibly exciting. There is nothing more that we love to receive than a video, photo or email from a customer expressing their satisfaction or having fun demonstrating their Proviz product to their friends on social media.
How is the company doing thus far in 2015 in terms of overall staff numbers/revenue/profit?
We had 300% growth in both the last two years which has been fantastic, so we are aiming to keep on this trend. So far in 2015 we have got into some key retailers and continued to expand the distribution network into countries like Japan, Canada, Switzerland, and South Africa. We have taken on some key team members too.
What is your projection for growth over the coming years?
We would like to continue with our fast growth and keep expanding the distribution network in new countries. Along with this, we aim to grow awareness and sales in our existing countries, as well as putting more resources into our online market, which is constantly growing. We love bringing out new products and will always be looking to expand the ranges and have some exciting ideas for the future.