With the worst winter in 30 years still very much here, things are going from bad to worse for the UK angling trade - and the recent closure of Oxfordshire-based Edge Baits looks to be a very harsh warning of what is to come.
Anglers are not venturing out due to the dire conditions, and as a result the trade is rife with rumours of companies and tackle shops fighting losing battles and hanging on by the skin of their teeth.
Shops up and down the country have been forced to put staff on reduced weeks, shorten their opening hours and place minimal, if indeed any, stock orders. The UK angling trade has effectively ground to a halt.
Add to this the fact that the country is emerging from a recession and it is clear to see just how hard trading conditions are at the minute, a point reiterated by Norwich’s Anglers World tackle shop owner
Lewis Murawski: “From my own perspective trade is currently garbage, and I would expect this sorry state of affairs to continue nationwide until it warms up.
“Anglers just aren’t coming through my door, and bait sales for both coarse and sea fishing are simply non-existent.
“Sales of items like rods, reels and poles remain slow but reasonably steady, so very careful planning with stock orders is essential to survive.”
On a wider scale it is feared that the lack of orders will lead to many companies ‘pulling in their horns’ just to survive this period.
UK-based tackle and bait manufacturers especially will now be starting to feel the pinch, with funding for research and development withdrawn along with their advertising spend.
The greater part of next season’s new equipment has already been launched by the majority of the bigger tackle manufacturers, but come this time next year you may see a noticeable decline in new launches, particularly those with any form of innovation.
Thankfully, most of the global companies such as Daiwa, Drennan and Shimano do not have to rely solely upon the UK market for turnover and product development, but they are still finding it hard. Some have even been forced into making staff redundancies.
Daiwa’s UK director of sales and marketing Robin Morley elaborated on the present state of trade for Daiwa in this country: “The current dire UK weather is really only affecting our home market and will not interfere with Daiwa Sports’ global business.
“However, I do fear that this prolonged freeze-up will have huge implications for the whole of the UK industry,” he said.
Preston Innovations director Ricky Teale is one of the few people to remain optimistic. “It’s business as usual for Prestons,” he said.
“If you stop producing new products, there isn’t much hope left for you as a business.
“Innovating desirable products stimulates the press and then, in turn, the retailer. You just have to keep moving forward,” he added.