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From 500 to 800 retailers in 3 months: Pure’s push for global distributors

Pure Electric CEO Adam Norris reveals how the specialist e-scooter brand is achieving economies of scale with a growing distribution network

When I spoke with Pure Electric Founder Adam Norris in December last year he told us the specialist e-scooter brand was in 500 retail outlets globally and that next year, this will double. Three months down the line and he’s now in 800.

Zag: How are you achieving such high levels of growth? 

Norris: “Getting into retail stores is a core focus for Pure so why not target the biggest national and global distributors that have their own retail networks? Our best model is in Australia where we are dealing with a great company which has got us in 120+ retail outlets alone.” 

Zag: What are some of the benefits of this model to both the distributor and Pure? 

Norris: “What it means from our perspective is that they are likely to have the right connections and can do the door knocking. In exchange for this, they make a margin for every scooter that gets sold in the country so there’s enough margin in it to make everyone happy. They can also do any warranty or repair work in the country which makes it a very light and efficient way for us to expand globally. And actually, that’s how probably the two largest mobility businesses in the world Segway and Xiaomi have built their businesses. They had that distribution network.”  

Zag: How did Pure originally sell e-scooters? 

Norris: “We started purely online because that was my background but quickly realised that people wanted to touch, feel and see the products by going to the store and so we opened some shops. But then we found, especially in the UK, that having a specialist scooter store just isn’t profitable. It can’t self-fund itself. In 2022 we changed tack by focusing on a retailer model, we spoke to some large retailers that loved our product and partnered with the UK’s biggest tech retailer Currys and Fnac Darty in France and that worked really well for us.

“As a smaller company we started by selling other people’s products, then we developed our own products, we then dealt with retailers because they wanted our product, but the way to go to scale it globally is to use distributors.” 

Zag: Tell us about the partnership in China?

Norris: “In Shanghai, one of our retail partners has opened a flagship store with plans to open five more this year to sell both in the retail space and online. China has the same status as the UK in that private e-scooters are currently not legal. But people are using them and they have taken a strategic decision to build out China now. It’s likely to legalise within the next year to two years, and therefore they want to be in a really strong position for when it does. Their belief is that China will become the world’s biggest market and they want Pure to be at the front. 

Pure Electric

“We’re also just about to launch in Romania after the distributor from Dyson approached us. People are riding scooters there and to sell in Romania only requires small technical changes to our vehicle. The biggest retail chain in Saudi Arabia also got in touch and again, they’ve got problems with congestion and pollution. Wherever we go in the world, human beings tend to congregate in cities and towns, and these get congested with cars that are designed to take four people.”

Zag: How is the UK market for Pure right now in terms of sales? 

Norris: “We’re now in 114 of Currys biggest stores. We’ve also recently launched in Argos and Halfords. Between us and those three retailers we have a lot of the UK market covered. But sales are flat. And I think it has been flat or down for most businesses this winter. I actually spoke with nine different businesses with operations around the world and all of them said consuming spending is down. One was a restaurant, one was a car retailer, one was electric mopeds, one was mowers etc. All of them have winter issues but this winter was worse than the previous year. Added to this is the fact our home market in the UK is not legalising. I think if the UK had legalised earlier we would have been profitable some time ago because that’s where we invested and put our cash into the business at the beginning.” 

Zag: I understand you’ve invested a lot of your own money into Pure. Have you had to invest any more into the business to make this work?

Norris: “Yes that’s correct. Since then I’ve put in more money to scale quicker as I know we’re on the right track. I know you’re recording this and feel it important to say that it has been a tough year but we’ve got through it. It’s not been an easy journey, it’s been a really painful journey. Interest rates have gone up, inflation and commodity prices have gone up for everyone. And it’s just been harder than I ever perceived it would be.

“But I’m proud to say we’ve rallied through and are on a great trajectory. The biggest cost for us is on product development. The two things you want to do is have more products you can sell to an existing network of distributors and retailers. And you want more distributors and networks you can put your existing product range through. So effectively you get economies of scale by moving either or both of these things up.” 

Zag: What’s the ambition for 2024? How many distributors are you aiming for?  

Norris: “At the moment we’ve got three major distributors in Finland, Australia and Italy, with Saudi Arabia and Romania about to come on board too. I think we’ll probably have eight by the end of the year. We’re looking to expand across the whole world but particularly Poland, Holland, Hungary, the US and Canada. But in the same way that Australia contacted us and said we’d love your product, we’d like to start selling it, I’m not wedded to any region. Bottom line is that it’s working well for us in Australia, every distributor is happy, we’ll roll out between 60,000-90,000 scooters this year and we’re looking for new retail partners and distributors in new countries. This is a massive market and I feel there’s a huge opportunity for people to get in early.”

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