Movers & Shakers Q&A – Simon Mottram, founder and CEO, Rapha Racing

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Simon Mottram, founder and CEO, Rapha Racing

1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?

Growing the sport of cycling. We want to reach more people and get more people to enjoy cycling. We’re ready made to take people by the hand. They can join our club, take part in rides, travel with us, buy our products and read our content. The opportunity is to build the community with Rapha Racing Club (RCC) at the centre.

2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?

It’s about execution. We don’t look at the danger as being things like Brexit and the competition because we see the challenge as our own execution and our internal delivery. We want to do this is an exceptional way. Apart from that we don’t see anything in the way.

3. With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently so far?

We had four or five years with nobody else in the market. We made lots of mistakes in these early years and we grew quickly and I would not want to take any of that back. But we’d have done physical retail earlier. And we’d have launched our women’s range earlier.

4. What is the future of the physical store and the high street?

Stores as distribution points is fading. It’s helpful to click & collect but it’s hard to justify them because there are more efficient ways to get goods to people. However, physical stores will remain relevant but more for as part of conversations – between customers and not just between the retailer and their customers. They will be a community hub and for this we should see more content in-store. We refer to our stores as Clubhouses rather than shops.

5. What technology-related plans have you got for the next 12 months?

We’re not about bleeding-edge technology but it’s very important to keep moving. We’ve a hell of a lot to do. Our Point-of-Sale is pretty rudimentary. We’re investing in a new solution, which will give us an ‘endless aisle’. From the community side of things like managing rides we’ve apps that we’ll use to digitally connect people.

6. With the issue of digital wildfire how do you understand and control your growing digital landscape?

We’ve a good grasp of what we do and we’ve people outside the company who handle all this. Control is not necessarily something we want to do. I’m only a control freak as far as being a brand guy.

7. What other retail business do you admire?

It’s more about brands I admire than retailers. Apple is interesting. They do their branding at scale with their stores. Also there’s Nike with their Nike Towns, which effectively started the Clubhouse idea. As far as the retail experience goes and done at scale then Nike is very impressive. Then there is Paul Smith – who just does what he wants. And I like emporiums such as Stanfords, where I know I can wallow in maps.

8. If you hadn’t been a retailer what would you have liked to do?

I’ve never really looked at retail as something we’re in. We’re the combination of media and retail and a brand.

9. Who would you place in the Top 25 Multi-channel/e-commerce Movers & Shakers?

The retail team are in this industry. But for me I do not know who the movers and shakers are.

This is one in an ongoing series of Q&A’s with individuals that are featured in the annual ‘Retail Insider Movers & Shakers in Retail Top 100’ report.