TRADE experts are predicting Britain’s budget price tackle phenomenon is set to crash as anglers switch back to big brand purchases.
For the past 10 years, traders and shops have gone direct to China for their own gear and the market has been flooded with tackle at incredibly low prices.
RRPs on rods and reels have tumbled to a tenner, and anglers have cashed in on the ease of trade with the Far East.
However, Mel Bagnall, publishing editor of trade title Angling International, has seen attendances at budget tackle shows plummet and has evidence the tide is turning.
“There is no doubt that there is a real change happening in the market. Consumers are smarter than ever before, and they have come to recognise imitation products and so-called new products that offer little or nothing in the way of innovation. Now they are looking for something special and different and are prepared to pay a bit more for it when they find it. They’ve figured out that if you spend a bit more you get a better product.
“The indicators have been there for some time. Attendances at budget tackle shows, for instance, appear to be on the decline as anglers realise they don’t want to buy another reel just like the three they already have in their box, however cheap it might be.
“I was speaking to one major UK company only this week which has changed its whole strategy based on the changes in consumer behaviour in the past couple of years.
“Rather than go to China, find a product and put its name on it, it has changed its whole philosophy and the shape of its business, putting all its emphasis on designing unique products with the capability to be a market leader.
“I had the same conversation with prestigious brands like Daiwa, Sage and Shimano earlier this year and they all recognise the need for genuine innovation.”
But Roger Surgay, show organiser and owner of Used Tackle, hit back, maintaining ‘cheap’ is still the driving force.
“The bottom end of the market is booming. People just haven’t got a lot of cash to spend and they are happy to take the bargain prices I can offer by going direct to China. As for the importance of branding, people have started to realise that most products are just the same stuff with a different colour sprayed on. Do anglers know that the biggest manufacturer for the UK is called Heng Feng? You don’t hear about that brand, because by the time it hits our shores it’s got a different badge on it.
“My seatbox for 2008 is the same as that of five other companies because it comes out of the same Chinese factory – the only difference is, mine is cheaper because I don’t have to offer a cut in profits to tackle shops.
“As for the shows, there is a downturn in the small events that aren’t established, but the big shows are still alive and thriving,” explained Roger.