Bivouac Outdoor

Premium products, strong relationships at the core of good business

An interest in the outdoors that developed while at university led to Wayne Martin becoming involved in outdoor retail and eventually the owner of one of New Zealand’s most well-known outdoor retail chains, Bivouac Outdoor.

Wayne is a business leader who has turned his passion into a profitable venture.  Since its creation in 1988, Bivouac Outdoor has become one of New Zealand’s leading outdoor retail chains with more than 85 premium brands to choose from.

Opening the first store with two others 28 years ago, Wayne has watched the business grow from one store in Cashel St, Christchurch to 11 nationwide, plus a small outlet store and an online store. Wayne says Bivouac Outdoor covers a wide range of customers, who tramp, climb, mountain bike, explore and travel.

A self-confessed outdoors man who enjoys tramping, sea kayaking and fishing, Wayne and his team of outdoor enthusiasts, work alongside customers to ensure products meet their needs and expectations.

Maintaining good relationships with customers is not only important for business, but it is also the aspect of the business Wayne enjoys the most. “Many of our customers have really interesting trips in mind and I enjoy discussing their plans and how we can assist with appropriate gear.

“In our market it’s about having great product and good staff who can advise customers.”

Meeting with manufacturers, distributors and retailers on a regular basis and putting customers at the heart of the company has enhanced and strengthened the business. Receiving awards such as Wilderness Magazine’s Chain Retailer of the Year award for the last two years only validates the company’s strong reputation with customers and outdoor industry leaders.

“A couple of Australian outdoor retail chains have left New Zealand and pulled back to Australia recently showing this market is not easy.

“Our main competitors have become more vertical with their own product aimed at the mass market. This leaves us as almost the only chain of stores carrying a wide range of quality outdoor brands.

“We choose the best brands from around the world and while this gives us lower margins than our competitors, it gives our customers much wider choice.”

Although expanding the online store presence is high on Wayne’s list, opening more branches throughout the country is also a priority on his agenda.  Having an online and physical presence will allow Bivouac Outdoor to continually meet customers’ needs in order “for them to continue to enjoy their outdoor activities”, he says.

Our apparel offering has expanded hugely with lifestyle products such as Icebreaker, as well as hard core mountaineering clothing

on our shelves,” says Wayne.  Wayne plans to expand on the popularity of the chain’s travel wear, luggage, clothing and accessories as well as trail running products currently on offer at Bivouac Outdoor.

Maintaining a close relationship with consumers through the company’s blog, which has been active since 2008, is important for sharing information about new products, promotion details and helpful hints.

“It’s also good for us to get feedback on product performance and the customer’s shopping experience. This is an area where social media excels.”

In order to grow the business, Wayne approached his account manager at BNZ bank, who suggested Moore Stephens Markhams New Zealand.  Wayne works with director, Paul Rickerby on the strategic direction of the business, acting as a sounding board for ideas.“After exploring other companies I settled on Moore Stephens Markhams New Zealand as I felt they could provide the support I needed.

“It has been great to have someone to bounce ideas off and a company that can give technical assistance in specialist areas when required.”

Published Autumn 2016

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