SUPPLIER FOCUS: iSkute

Dan Maker from specialist supplier iSkute tells Dominic Sacco how it's now ready to conquer the UK...
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iSkute has made a real name for itself in the scooter market since setting up just two years ago this coming October.

The ambitious company started out importing the popular Australian line of Grit pro scooters into the UK, helping that brand build up from a small start-up into a multi million-pound business.

It also stocks the high-end £250-plus Crisp scooter range, which is extremely customisable, and the lightweight Code helmets, which retail at £25 each.

Now it has identified another craze Down Under that it hopes will crack the UK: Karnage Skateboards. Hundreds of thousands of the brightly coloured plastic Karnage Skateboards have been sold in Australia in a matter of months. 

iSkute’s Dan Maker has been working in distribution for around 15 years, and knew he had to snap up the plastic board range as soon as he saw it.

“Grit has been phenomenally successful, and as a distribution company, we get offered lots of other products,” he tells ToyNews. “We don’t take very many because some aren’t that great. But when Karnage came along, I knew it was a really cool product. 

“Karnage are little retro plastic short boards that ride like a long board. They’re small, have an infinite number of colours and are really good value from £55 each. It reminds me of the late ‘70s when we had all those Penny skateboards – it's really retro and it’s a great product. 

“Karnage is absolutely massive in Australia. If we can get to just ten per cent of what it’s like there, that would be amazing. It is going totally crazy Down Under.”

View the full Karnage Skateboards image gallery on ToyNews' Facebook page:

SOARING SCOOTER SALES

Today iSkute supplies 20 different countries around the world, including the US, Russia and UK. Having a small team allows iSkute to really focus and specialise in the outdoor extreme sports sector, but its success means time is at a premium.

“I never have any free time,” continues Maker. “It's f***ing unreal at the moment. It’s mad. I’ve been chased by three different countries today alone.

“We have stock, we offer next day delivery and there’s no minimum orders, so we make it very easy for retail to buy from us.”

iSkute also says its scooter sales weren’t negatively affected by the poor UK weather earlier this year.

“Scooters are a very hot product,” Maker continues. “All of us are trying to keep up with the demand. We haven’t seen any downturn [in scooter sales], but we have seen a resurgence since the weather improved.”

RETAIL KARNAGE

Hundreds of thousands of Karnage units have been sold in Australia since they went on sale earlier this year, and iSkute hopes this success will be replicated in the UK. It also says independent toy retailers have a real opportunity, as Karnage boards aren’t being stocked by many mainstream retailers.

“I think from an indie toy retailer’s perspective, I would say that specialisation is good,” he says. “The mass-market retailer may stock one board colour at one price point, but those stores and indies have different customers. Independents can generate a nicer shopping experience with a wider range of product.”

Customers can choose from a host of deck colours, and even opt for semi-translucent boards and glow-in-the-dark decks. The Code helmets complement the Karnage range, as they are available in a variety of colours, and can be used by safety-conscious scooter riders too.

iSkute is also marketing the boards via online videos and is handing out decks to ‘influential’ skate park riders.

Maker believes Karnage will appeal to a variety of riders, from children to teenagers who already use scooters and BMXs, through to adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s, who may have skateboarded before.

“We’re selling hundreds of thousands of units of scooters here, but we’re not yet selling hundreds of thousands of skateboards, and Karnage is in Australia,” comments Maker. “But we’ve got a real broad range of consumers and I think Karnage will be quite an important product leading into this Christmas.

“I don’t think we’ve yet scratched the surface of it really.”

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