International News: UK

While everyone in the U.S. is working out how to deal with the China woodshop issue, things here are a little more subdued.

“As a retailer, I don’t think this is going to change the stocking profile of the store. There has been a decline in the popularity of U.S. brands in the past few years and this is not simply a result of pricing,” says Paul Sunman, owner of London’s Slam City Skate Shop and Distribution, adding: “There are greater implications in Chinese production than just pricing, and we have to see what companies like Dwindle intend to do in the long term.”

However, when it comes to distribution and his board company, Organic, Sunman says they need to be aware of changes in the market, explaining that existing established suppliers and relationships currently satisfy their requirements in terms of quality and price. “For smaller companies it’s a very different business model to change your production overnight in such a fundamental way,” he says.

After several months of sponsorship limbo, Franklin Stephens has finally settled himself onto the roster of Lyon, France-based Cliché Skateboards. This will potentially allow Europe’s most popular skateboard company a secure foot in the UK-and give Stephens just enough time to put some footage together for Cliché’s latest video release, Bon Appetit, and a full part promised for the DVD release. Rumors are floating around of a possible second rider from the UK for the team, but nothing has been confirmed at present.

With Kingpin (Europe’s only multilingual and pan-European skateboard magazine) celebrating its first birthday, the UK skateboarder is finally getting a better informed view of the rest of Europe and the skaters and companies it has to offer. Could this be the beginning of European skateboard companies making serious inroads into the UK skate scene? Niall Neeson, editor in chief of Kingpin says his vision is for “joined-up skateboarding for a joined-up Europe.” With Flynn Trotman and Rodney Clarke riding for Austria’s Crème Skateboards, Franklin Stephens on France’s Cliché, Benny Fairfax, and Mark Baines on Sweden’s WE Clothing, and Blueprint sponsoring Finnish rider Tuukka Korhonen, it appears that Neeson’s vision is not too far-fetched, and the UK won’t remain an island in skateboarding for much longer. European brands, such as Cliché, Control, Hessenmob, WE Clothing, and Mekanism are all already available in the UK. This can only be the start of European brands’ bids for a share of the UK market.

Attempting a new branch of skater-run entrepreneurship is Division Promotions from Crossfire, which has been successfully running its club nights, skate jams, video promotions, and countrywide Riot Bus trips to skateparks for over two years now. Its latest venture is to use the skatepark as a marketing opportunity for record companies and marketing groups. By selling poster space and organizing marketing opportunities, such as promotional advertising packs for people leaving the skatepark, Division hopes to plough money from promotional advertising budgets into improvements for skateparks and provide them with an alternative revenue stream. See caughtinthecrossfire.com for more info.

And finally, skateboarding still remains very much in the public eye in the UK, especially with the new BBC ONE national programme segues featuring Vans UK riders Ollie Todd, Franklin Stephens, and Danny Wainwright in an impressive choreographed routine over various obstacles along the dockside in Dublin. Stephens has obviously been a busy man lately-along with filming for BBC One, and his new sponsorship deal, he’s also managed to lay down an amazing full section for the newly released Sidewalk video, In Motion. Sidewalk is one of the UK’s biggest and most popular skateboard magazines, produced by Permanent Publishing in Oxford, England. Sidewalk’s In Motion video continues to bolster the UK skateboarder’s pride in hhomegrown talent and brands, and features full sections from Paul Sylvester, Ben Grove, Snowy, Joey Pressey, and Stereo Skateboards’ latest acquisition to their new team-Benny Fairfax, along with cameos from just about every other skateboarder in the UK.

Do you have any news about your shop or company in the UK and Ireland?E-email Chris at christhomas101@hotmail.com