On Thursday evening 28th April, Lekker Bikes held a grand opening party for its new Sydney Brand Store.
Lekker is a Dutch brand that actually started in Australia. We spoke with Saskia van Lier, who is Lekker’s Commercial Director, responsible for Australian operations.
“We had a very tiny boutique in Surry Hills,” Saskia explained.
“We’ve outgrown it and we wanted something where customers could really have a better experience. We have that already in Melbourne, where we have more space.
“We want people to come, take their time, take the bikes out for a ride and make their decision. I have been looking for a new store for quite a long time but finding the right spot was hard until we discovered this.”
The location Saskia selected is a couple of kilometres further from the city centre than their previous location, but diagonally opposite a huge construction site which from 2024 will open as the Waterloo Metro station, part of Sydney’s multi-billion-dollar underground metro rail project.
This might prove a two-edged sword for the new Lekker Bikes location. The location will offer fantastic foot traffic and exposure but its prime site has been rezoned for high rise redevelopment.
“It’s 330 square metres over two floors,” Saskia said.
“We have the showroom (downstairs) and office space (upstairs). Then we have the backyard with 12 car parks where people who are not comfortable riding on the street can take a test ride. Or they can go to Alexandria Park.”
Lekker was started by Meindert Wolfrad, who is Dutch. Saskia, who is also Dutch, gave a brief background.
“It’s all about the Dutch way of transporting yourself,” she said.
“We Dutchies learn how to ride a bike from such an early age but that’s not every Australian. When Meindert came here to live, he missed his bike.
“He’s an industrial designer by trade. When he came to Australia, he saw the opportunity but he also discovered that a bike in Sydney means something else than a bike in Amsterdam because you have more hills so it needed to be more acceptable. So he developed the product, initially for an Australian audience.
“We started here in Australia. We have two shops here, Melbourne and Sydney, with a third shop to open later this year in Brisbane. We haven’t decided on the location within Brisbane yet.
“Then the European business is really taking off as well. E-bikes are really taking off for us. We have a store in Amsterdam and we’ll have a store in Germany later this year. The USA is next. That’s going to happen hopefully as well later this year.
“Of course, we also sell online as well. When covid hit and we had to close the physical stores, you saw online go like this! (making an upward line gesture). So now we’re in the process of finding out, ‘What’s the new normal?’, ‘How do the two correlate?’. A lot of our customers still like to come into the store.”
Saskia comes from an unusual background for a bike industry member. After training and working as a lawyer, she worked for a global television company, selling popular program franchises into various countries. She’s been with Lekker for three years and has seen significant changes to their market and product mix during this time.
“When I started at Lekker, we saw about 70/30 towards conventional bikes versus e-bikes, but now we’re seeing the reverse,” she reported.
Despite their very sophisticated marketing and branding – Lekker is a common Dutch adjective that means ‘beautiful, tasty, cool, stylish and sexy’ – the bikes are sourced in Asia and quite moderately priced. By only selling their own brand, and doing all the branding, spec’ing, sourcing and importing themselves, Lekker is bypassing a wholesaler and wholesale margin and going straight from the manufacturer’s FOB (free on board) price to retail, in the case of their own stores. But they also sell at wholesale to a selection of dealers around Australia.
Saskia continued: “The starting price of our conventional bikes is around $1,000, up to around $1,800 for an eight speed. But that’s without the accessories. Usually, our customers like to accessorise with a rack, basket, things like that. Then our e-bikes start at around the $2,000 mark, up to about $4,500.
“We see that our customer base varies. Some people have done their research and buy a Lekker because of the spec that we offer. Then there’s others that have never ridden a bike. They deliberately choose a Lekker because they love the brand, they love the aesthetics of the bike as well.
“It’s great because that means you’re bringing more people to cycling that maybe would not have ridden or purchased a bike, because they wouldn’t go to the other bike stores, but they do come to us.”