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Bristol bike maintenance company trebles exports

30 June 2021
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A Bristol-based bike part manufacturer featured on Dragon’s Den in 2018, has established itself in the US market where it is offering maintenance for bicycles, motorcycles and karts. The company expects to generate sales of £20 million over the next five years.

True Tension was established by Chris Frappell in 2015 at age 23. His passion for cycling and biking led him to develop the idea for one of the company’s most popular products, the Chain Monkey. This is a tension tool that bolts onto a chain and induces an arc into the chain giving cyclists the movement they need.

Since 2016, the company has received support from the Department for International Trade (DIT) including grants to participate in overseas trade shows and has attended workshops focused on how to get into the US market.

These events helped the business to establish important relationships, and now exporting accounts for 25 per cent of Tru Tension’s total sales after a growth of 250 per cent in online sales in the last year to the US.

While the company’s exports slowed during the coronavirus pandemic, its online export sales have more than trebled over the last year which has maintained the company’s growth.

Chris Frappell – Tru TensionChris Frappell, Founder of Tru Tension said: “DIT has supported us hugely during our export journey to the US. They provided us with a couple of grants to help us get the brand going in the US. Without these there would be no chance we’d be in the position we are now.

“Export as quickly as possible. Domestic is great, but the international market is the slower burning but potentially more profitable side of the business. You can get big orders a few times a year with international trade which can really help your company grow.”

Tru Tension’s international expansion has also secured deals with retailers in France, Germany, Scandinavia, and Greece.

The company’s growth in the US market came as research emerged that during the coronavirus pandemic, cycling in the US and across the world increased significantly due to more time spent outside. According to the Rails-to-Trails conservancy, ridership on trails in the US increased three-fold in 2020 from the same period the year before.1

Research by People for Bikes found that one in ten American adults reported having ridden a bike for the first time in a year (or longer) since the onset of Covid-19.

Paul Shand, Head of Trade for DIT in the South West said:  “Tru Tension’s success in the US demonstrates the strong demand for high-quality UK good overseas, and it’s great to see them thriving and helping consumers over the world connect with nature during a challenging time."

Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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