Viewing 37 posts - 81 through 117 (of 117 total)
  • Stanton Bicycles Facing German Copycat
  • slackboy
    Full Member

    It just leaves a nasty taste

    What leaves a nasty taste is one company stealing the ip, branding and goodwill of another and then holding themselves out to be that company in order to profit.

    They’ve stolen someone’s brand *and* personal identity to shift some bike frames.

    It doesn’t matter that the frames were destined for Stanton UK, if the manufacturer doesn’t get paid for their work they can ,of course , sell their product on. But their product is  metal tubes welded together, not Stanton branded bicycle frame.

    Andy
    Full Member

    People really do need to listen to the podcast. Dan was pretty clear that he has worked with his suppliers to make sure that they are not out of pocket. He also stated he was forced into this situation by his co-investor. There was no card shuffling phoenix trick.

    As said by FT-ATB the buyout by Dan from Administration was completed Mid-Feb 23.  The 1bike4life Stanton social media started end May 23.  My bet is the dev prep was started a couple of months before at the earliest, and they knew Stanton was back up and running when they took this decision.  I am still calling it cynical opportunism based on the 23 frames (according to an earlier post) they picked up somewhere, that they thought they could build a business out of.

    I doubt it was social media pressure that made Bike24 drop them. Bike24 probably realised that the what they were selling wasn’t legit and would have no warranty recourse, no sustainability and so a bad business decision to continue.

    Also i dont see this as similar to Planet X buying dead brand names at all.   At no time was Stanton a dead brand, its remained operational throughout. When Planet X bought the Titus brand and remaining stock, Titus, once a great bike maker, had been dead for a couple of years, due to going bust over the motolite carbon stay issue and the stock had sat in a warehouse for a couple of years untouched.  I think an US employee of Planet X came across it and they bought it all along with the brand name.

    BruceWee
    Full Member

    People really do need to listen to the podcast.

    People need to listen to the podcast and pay particular attention to the part where Dan is talking about the potential buyers for the Stanton brand.

    Spoiler: none of them were interested in mountain biking.

    An owner buying his own company back from the administrators is pretty unprecedented in the mountain biking industry, at least as far as I can remember.  Happy to be proved wrong.

    Like I said, the most likely destination for Stanton as a brand after going into administration was as BSO shelf filler so that a foreign oligarch could have access to the UK via their ‘mountain biking’ company.  If I’m seriously the only one who thought this then I need an education in the history of small brands who have gone into administration because I am definitely missing something.

    Now two things could have happened with 1bike4life.  The first is that they saw a quick buck and went for it.

    The second is that they saw what the rest of us saw which was that Stanton was destined to be sold in Argos.  Thanks to fortuitous timing and Brexit they realised they could ‘own’ Stanton EU while whatever oligarch bought Stanton would own Stanton UK.

    I have no idea which is the case.  Given human nature it’s most likely the first.

    However, IF an oligarch ended up buying Stanton purely to own a UK based company while Stanton EU was over in Germany selling Sherpas, Switchbacks, and Slacklines I’m sure we’d all be congratulating them on getting one over on the man.  Legal and moral grey areas or not.

    Andy
    Full Member

    Yep, wisdom of hindsight and all, I think thats a fair assessment.

    The only thing that doesnt quite add up for me are the timings for the 1bike4life activity, which suggests to me they realised their hand was busted but decided to press on.

    Its an interesting question when do you pull the plug on commercial exploration. Sometimes its a bit of a whirlpool and once caught difficult to see the right time to pull back. I once developed an instore customer thing based on a Microsoft gadget or some such. 12 weeks of bonkers hard work by a big team, only to be told to cancel it the night before deployment because Rupert, the Marketing Director, had told the FT in an interview that the brand identified with Apple based on “shared vision” and couldn’t roll back on that comment.

    TheGingerOne
    Full Member

    Like I said, the most likely destination for Stanton as a brand after going into administration was as BSO shelf filler so that a foreign oligarch could have access to the UK via their ‘mountain biking’ company. If I’m seriously the only one who thought this then I need an education in the history of small brands who have gone into administration because I am definitely missing something

    The most likely destination for Stanton as a brand was as a small company that existed in the history of the UK MTB market. They are not a big enough brand that would end up as a BSO somewhere as noone outside of the core MTB ‘Singletrackworld’ base would have ever heard of them.

    BruceWee
    Full Member

    They are not a big enough brand that would end up as a BSO somewhere as noone outside of the core MTB ‘Singletrackworld’ base would have ever heard of them.

    Like I said, listen to the podcast and Dan’s description of the potential buyers and why they were interested in buying Stanton.

    It is interesting that some brands that would be considered ‘proper’ mountain bikes still exist as BSO brands.  Muddy Fox is one that springs to mind.  Coyote is another.  I’m sure there are more.

    I always assumed that the brand was bought with a view to continuing it but after a while it was just found that BSOs were more profitable than proper bikes but I couldn’t understand why the name was important since the customer would certainly never have heard of the brand anyway.

    However, after listening to the podcast, it sounds like some of these brands were bought in order for certain individuals to own an already established business in a particular country.  I guess if you buy a bike brand for reasons that aren’t related to an interest in selling bikes then BSOs make perfect sense.

    Could be an interesting story to investigate bike brands you thought were dead and gone are actually still around selling BSOs and who it was who bought them?

    andyrm
    Free Member

    For ease, has anyone got a link to the podcast please? Sounds like an interesting listen 👍

    martn
    Full Member

    So there’s an interview with Andreas Kirschner up on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuNJ2td-tMc
    I don’t know when they filmed it but from context it was clearly after Eurobike, so fairly fresh.

    I haven’t watched the whole thing, just the part labelled ‘How to buy a bike brand?’. To summarize and translate: He basically states that he bought a container of 400 frames* from the Asian manufacturer that happens to be the same who builds his steel and titanium frames (Falkenjagd and Rennstahl). Supposedly he has further business with said manufacturer (something about tooling) and wanted to prevent the whole operation from suffering from financial problems that might have been the result of hundreds of unpaid frames. Here’s where it get’s sketchy: He also states that he got the rights to use the branding / trademark rights by purchasing those frames. As if that was just normal. No flinching there. Dan doesn’t get mentioned.

    *He said that there’s more left, probably another 400 frames (one container).

    squirrelking
    Free Member

    Here’s where it get’s sketchy: He also states that he got the rights to use the branding / trademark rights by purchasing those frames. As if that was just normal.

    Lolwut?

    ampthill
    Full Member

    So at what point does a bike aquire it’s brand?
    If Whyte went into receiver ship today and I bought their current stock I could sell them as Whye bikes? But if I bought bikes in containers, from the supplier, that hadn’t yet  arrived at Whyte, I can’t sell them as Whyte bikes? I think that’s correct. What makes a bike a Whyte bike is it being sold by Whyte

    mick_r
    Full Member

    I think the tricky thing is what state of finish the frames were in.

    As a bare steel frame, there would only have been the crown logo embossed in the chainstay plate to really identify their origin. With powder coat / paint and maybe some filler they could easily have been branded as part of the German guy’s own existing line. But if painted and they already had (Stanton) decals under lacquer and a head badge, then pretty hard to sell them as anything else without a lot of refinishing costs. What would you do as the frame manufacturer with a container full and no idea if Stanton would ever be a going concern again?

    Any Ti frames are a different proposition, as even if fully finished, they would maybe have been easier to rebrand. Presumably there were fewer of those and the decision on the steel frames dictated what happened with them?

    With your Whyte example, some models might be more identifiable as Whyte (things like seat clamp and seatstay designs) so even trickier if the brand owner hasn’t paid for them.

    Oblongbob
    Full Member

    A company acquires right in a brand in two ways: 1) building up a reputation in the brand can lead to unregistered rights such as ‘passing off’, and 2) through registering a trade mark. The latter gives you far more rights. Dan didn’t do much of that, which is a shame as things would be much easier now. The purpose of a trade mark is to guarantee the origin of goods – you as a consumer should be confident a Stanton bike comes from Stanton, a Whyte comes from Whyte (or your box of Kellogg’s come from Kellogg’s).  The fact that a bike is exactly the same as a Stanton doesn’t allow anyone to sell it as a Stanton if they are infringing trade mark rights – only the trade mark owner (or a licensee) has the right sell goods bearing the TM (reselling or parallel imports of goods already put on the market by a TM owner are a bit complicated, so we’ll leave that to one side). If Stanton had got the registered trade mark he (or the administrators) would have been entitled to prevent those frames going on sale (i.e. marketing goods bearing the TM) by someone not entitled to use the TM. Without the registration, they’re in a much weaker position, being left to allege passing off or some other form of unfair competition. One take away, if you’re investing tens or hundreds of thousands on building up a brand, spend a couple of thousand tying up the TM rights.

    Northwind
    Full Member

    mick_r
    Full Member

    I think the tricky thing is what state of finish the frames were in.

    Yup, and that, we don’t know because on the one side we have Dan who says he’s “pretty sure” they weren’t labelled up, and on the other we have the fairly untrustworthy German company saying they were. Of course they could have been labelled by the factory, AFTER Stanton failed to pay for the stock but before the Germans bought them, as a third way.

    TBF, when it’s just the act of reselling the bankrupt stock, I don’t think you can go too far wrong. These were Stanton bikes after all, even if Stanton never paid for them, and ultimately the only reason they were available to buy is that the manufacturer got shat on and Stanton weren’t able to fulfil their obligations. It’s still very likely that the manufacturer took a hit on these even once they managed to sell them, and tbf Stanton seem to get a very easy ride over stuff like that Having bikes with your branding etc out there that you don’t control becomes just a side effect of going out of business, at that point.

    But the wider appropriation of the brand goes way past that.

    andyrm
    Free Member

    Interesting point there Northwind – maybe the vendor added the branding to hopefully make them easier to move on and recoup their losses? Wouldn’t seem like too big a stretch I don’t think.

    wbo
    Free Member

    Stanton have nothing like the public presence of Muddy Fox, they’re absolutely not comparable. Muddy Fox were everywhere in the public eye, and sold lots of units, got in newspapers etc.  Stanton are a niche. Using Stanton as a way in to flog BSO’s doesn’t make sense as nobody who’s buying a BSO has heard of them so you can just make up any name you want..

    dangeourbrain
    Free Member

    who says he’s “pretty sure” they weren’t labelled up

    Thing there is, those frames either should have been prior to dispatch or they shouldn’t. They were months delayed*, then Stanton went into administration not paying, and they sat at the manufacturer looking for a home but ready for dispatch.

    If they should have been branded up, they will have been by that point.
    If they shouldn’t, they wouldn’t have been.

    Dan should know if those frames were ordered finished or not, he should know if they were complete or still waiting painting etc because at the point they went into administration those things were quite important to the ongoing viability of the business.

    On a normal day, possibly there’s someone(s) to do that and he doesn’t need to know, on the day before you’re trying to figure out how to keep the business alive you’re all over things that might keep you afloat or drag you under.

    *cause or effect I’ve no idea

    BruceWee
    Full Member

    Stanton have nothing like the public presence of Muddy Fox, they’re absolutely not comparable. Muddy Fox were everywhere in the public eye, and sold lots of units, got in newspapers etc.  Stanton are a niche. Using Stanton as a way in to flog BSO’s doesn’t make sense as nobody who’s buying a BSO has heard of them so you can just make up any name you want..

    Again, listen to the podcast.

    The people who were interested in buying Stanton had no interest in selling bikes.  They wanted a UK based company.  If that happened to be a bike company then presumably there has to be some token effort to sell bikes to make things legit.  Hence BSOs.

    Or maybe not, but from the podcast it’s pretty clear that if any of the potential buyers had gotten hold of the Stanton brand then it would not have survived as we know it today.

    As I said earlier, I can’t think of a similar outcome with any bike brand.  As far as I know, the original owner buying the company back is pretty much unheard of.

    FB-ATB
    Full Member

    original owner buying the company back is pretty much unheard of.

    read the administrators report at Companies House- before the “collapse” a plan for the original company to survive had been agreed, the investor then changed his mind.

    Dan buying the company back was effecting the original decision.

    BruceWee
    Full Member

    read the administrators report at Companies House- before the “collapse” a plan for the original company to survive had been agreed, the investor then changed his mind.

    Dan buying the company back was effecting the original decision.

    Sure, but it doesn’t change the fact I can’t think of another example of a bike company in as dire straits as Stanton appeared to be being bought by the original owner.

    Not being the font of all mtb historical knowledge I may be missing an example but so far none have been forthcoming.

    chakaping
    Free Member

    The plot thickens, eh.

    Branding decals etc. would always be added at the factory in Taiwan, as I understand it.

    maybe the vendor added the branding to hopefully make them easier to move on and recoup their losses? Wouldn’t seem like too big a stretch I don’t think.

    So there’s at least plausible deniability if this happened.

    I’m not saying Stanton wants to have his cake and eat it (and not pay for some other cake he ordered), but does Singletrack’s reporting seem a little credulous?

    ampthill
    Full Member

    This review says that finishing was done in house

    Unusually, it offers its four hardtails in titanium as well as steel. Stanton designs, engineers, paints and finishes its frames at Stanton HQ in Derbyshire, although to save money you can choose to buy a Taiwan-built, rather than UK-built, chassis for any of its steel hardtails.

    https://www.bikeradar.com/reviews/bikes/mountain-bikes/stanton-slackline-review/

    mick_r
    Full Member

    Hmmm. They had paint facilities in the UK, but was it for the far east frames or just the locally made stuff? If that was the case, surely they would have said “they can’t have been branded as we only ever buy in bare frames”.

    And how did the factory have the cast / moulded head badges if they didn’t finish the frames over there?

    It is a regrettable situation for lots of reasons, but the factory has to be allowed to recover some of the losses. However the actions of the German guy do seem slightly opportunistic.

    BruceWee
    Full Member

    He basically states that he bought a container of 400 frames* from the Asian manufacturer that happens to be the same who builds his steel and titanium frames (Falkenjagd and Rennstahl).

    Between this story and the podcast, there’s just so much that doesn’t add up.

    From what I understood from this story, the manufacturer sold the unbranded frames to A.N Other who somehow got hold of some old Stanton branding and then ‘finished’ the frames and who then sold them onto 1bike4life (presumably along with the Stanton ‘brand’).

    Why then, if the manufacturer is the same one 1bike4life uses, would 1bike4life buy the frames from A.N. Other?  Why not just buy the frames from the original manufacturer?

    In the podcast Dan says he still has a really good relationship with the manufacturer.  If that’s the case then there’s 3 parties, Stanton, 1ike4life, and the manufacturer who presumably get on with each other and could figure out who sold what to who.   Unless there actually is a 4th party who bought the frames from 1bike4life’s manufacturer and then sold them to 1bike4life.

    I could be misunderstanding some key elements of this story though.  It’s hardly clear.

    RustyMac
    Full Member

    The branding aspect may be muddied by the fact that the Stanton Log is embossed/machined into some of the parts of the frame (head tube gusset and chain stay plate and possibly others) the painting of the frames and applying of decals I believe is done in house at Stanton in England, the 1bike4life frames appear to be using an older version of the Stanton logo, it would not be a stretch to think that these may have been painted up and decals applied by the manufacturer if this is something they had done for legacy models of frames.

    There was a fair delay in the first batch of Taiwanese Switch 9er frames with these initially anticipated in the July of 2020 and them eventually arriving  late October. It would seem that from 2020 Stanton had been trying to work with the manufacturer of the frames and due to Covid delays in production led to delayed sales and I’m speculating here that this led to Stanton missing the boat on some key sales when the industry was booming and their investor decided to divest their interest in the business as they saw the slow in the sector coming that we are in now. This then in turn led to Stanton going into administration and a batch of frames in the 200-500 region being built and part paid for being left with the manufacturer.

    From their the manufacturer has looked to fully recoup their expenses and sold them to another company they are a supplier to and that supplier has taken a punt on Stanton fully going under like other small bike companies had done and looked at a quick way to turn around the fames and sell them on by copying all the previous marketing info.

    Dan managing to find a way to get the company back from the administrators was unexpected, I suspect he may have looked to buy these frames back in the future but lack of cash flow in the business probably made that impossible at the time and with many of the smaller manufacturers working on tighter margins they likely looked to shift on a potential bad debt as quickly as possible.

    kelvin
    Full Member

    buy the frames from A.N. Other?

    Is “A.N. Other” someone who stepped in when the old Stanton was in administration? If the factory needed paying, and the administrators weren’t going to be paying… then something had to happen. Anyone offering to buy and flip the built frames would be welcome for the manufacturers you’d expect.

    BruceWee
    Full Member

    If I had to take a guess, I’d say the original manufacturer ‘finished’ the frames and sold them to 1bike4life (along with the Stanton ‘brand’) because they were convinced Stanton were finished (not an unreasonable assumption).  They were going to take a hell of a financial hit both on the 800 frames and the tooling costs if they didn’t.

    1bike4life either didn’t know or didn’t care that Stanton weren’t yet completely dead but weren’t expecting a resurrection anyway and are now looking at a big hole in their finances if they can’t shift these 400 (or is it 800) frames before the EU and US TMs get rejected so they are doing everything they can to avoid contact with Dan.

    From the podcast, Dan is in no position to buy these frames from 1bike4life even if he wanted to.  He is currently ‘buying’ his frames batch by batch to the guy he sold them to in order to buy the company back.

    Talk of another buyer who finished the frames themselves is just a smokescreen to divert attention away from the manufacturer who Dan is trying to maintain a good relationship with.  A 4th party in all this just doesn’t make sense.

    As has been mentioned earlier in the thread, a manufacturer who played fast and loose with one of it’s customer’s brands might find it’s reputation being terminally damaged.  However, I’m not sure if Dan bringing this to the world’s attention was the best way to preserve the reputation of a manufacturer he’s going to need in the future if everything goes well.

    This is all pure speculation though.  If there are any glaring errors then there are people with first hand knowledge of this situation already contributing to this thread who can correct me.

    BruceWee
    Full Member

    Is “A.N. Other” someone who stepped in when the old Stanton was in administration? If the factory needed paying, and the administrators weren’t going to be paying… then something had to happen. Anyone offering to buy and flip the built frames would be welcome for the manufacturers you’d expect.

    But if Stanton and 1bike4life use the same manufacturer why would someone else have to buy the frames first?

    Unless it was some plausible deniability thing so the manufacturer could say hand on heart, ‘The frames left the factory unfinished.’

    dissonance
    Full Member

    Anyone offering to buy and flip the built frames would be welcome for the manufacturers you’d expect.

    The frames were (probably) fair game. Its the pretending to be Stanton as opposed to just selling the frames which is dubious.
    The alternative would be the planet x reselling the Sick frames.
    Branded as their own but openly advertised/known it was the sick frames.
    Even if they were branded up (which seems unclear) just doing a nudge nudge wink wink of some stickers over the top (which could be easily removed if bored) would have given seperation.

    letmetalktomark
    Full Member

    I cannot find it now but I’m sure I read a comment from Dan on the owners group Facebook page that the deal with the manufacturer of the frames was that they wouldn’t be sold to anyone(?) outside of Asia.

    I remember thinking at the time was this down to “rights” regarding the trademark(?) and it’s lawful usage.

    I’ve looked back and it was either a figment of my imagination or it was deleted.

    Maybe if they had ended up in Asia this wouldn’t have affected the brand in the same way a European company would.

    wzzzz
    Free Member

    I guess Dave (who obviously believes in the brand) might be trying to buy the frames from 1bike4life to drip feed back to Stanton.

    They will be worth much less branded another way. But we might see that.

    Either way with bike24 rejecting them probably means no other big distributer will touch them, so they are worth more to Stanton than anyone else.

    andrewreay
    Full Member

    they wouldn’t be sold to anyone(?) outside of Asia

    So the manufacturer sells to an Asian buyer, who promptly re-sells them to someone else, say in Europe…?

    Difficult to enforce in reality.

    BruceWee
    Full Member

    So the manufacturer sells to an Asian buyer, who promptly re-sells them to someone else, say in Europe…?

    Difficult to enforce in reality.

    And even more dodgy if it turns out that Stanton and 1bike4life do share a manufacturer.

    I think that’s the question this whole thing hinges on.  Do Stanton frames and 1bike4life frames come from the same factory or not?

    ampthill
    Full Member

    Just to clarify. From memory some colours were cheaper. I think these were painted in Asia.

    dangeourbrain
    Free Member

    the deal with the manufacturer of the frames was that they wouldn’t be sold to anyone(?) outside of Asia

    I wonder if they got paid for that deal?

    Call me cynical but I can’t see a manufacturer left with 800 frames that aren’t paid for was overly likely to make any such agreement with Stanton bicycles two weeks after Stanton bikes went into administration not least because Stanton bicycles will have had zero claim on those frames or what happened to them

    weester
    Full Member

    https://enduro-mtb.com/en/steel-vs-titanium/

    This is a fairly recent piece that seems to infer that Stanton Bikes no longer exist!

    tomhoward
    Full Member

    Stanton were/are furious about it, from their instagram stories at the time

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