Helping Swedish roofbox giant establish in the UK and break into new product sectors

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Background

Thule Group (Sweden) are global market leaders in roof racks, roof boxes and bike racks. With its motto, ‘Active Life, Simplified’ , Thule focuses on developing safe, easy to use and stylish solutions for active families and outdoor enthusiasts.

Thule’s products are sold in 140 markets and it employs over 2200 people at nine production facilities and more than 35 sales outlets worldwide. Net sales amounted to SEK 5.9 billion (£507 million) in 2017.

The company currently employs 25 people, having recently recruited in technical services and new business consultants.

Challenge

24 years ago, Thule started its UK operations. From its small beginnings, offering ski boxes and roof baskets to the UK automotive market, Thule wanted to expand with such products as tow-bar mounted bike carriers, kayak carriers and snow chains. By the early 2000s Thule’s aim was to branch out into new categories in keeping with their brand philosophy: producing top-quality, safe and stylish solutions for everyday use. By 2010, Thule was ready to enter the UK market in Luggage & Bags and Active with Kids.

From its very beginnings in the mid 90s, Thule chose PM Creative to be their Brand Development partner in the UK, with the overall aim to raise awareness of this Swedish brand in the UK. First in their core market of car carriers and racks, and later branching out into their new categories of luggage and baby strollers. Thule’s briefs and missions for PM have been numerous over the years.

The overall aim has always been to get Thule in front of the right UK audience to create memorable exposure and brand awareness and ultimately increase UK product sales.

Solution

In the 24 years that PM Creative has been an extension of Thule’s UK team, we have created a plethora of successful Advertising, Marketing and PR campaigns. We have also developed several commercial websites for Thule’s UK dealers and customers.

Some of the highlights:

  • 1994 – PM designed a series of adverts for Thule’s first national advertising campaign in collaboration with Halfords .
  • 1995 – PM launched Thule’s first automotive PR campaign, marking Thule’s move away from advertising towards PR.
  • 1996 – PM developed Thule’s first UK website to show UK products only. PM also developed a UK Thule Dealer Extranet, which was a game changer for the Thule, as it enabled dealers to have their own pricing structure. PM supported this with POS materials and product promotions.
  • 1999 – PM arranged a very successful sponsorship deal for Thule with the British Land speed Record team, leading to international coverage and live broadcasts with Sky News and the BBC.
  • 2001 – PM won the acclaimed CIPR GOLD award for the ‘Best Low-Budget PR Campaign’, following the virtual launch of the Thule Evolution Roof Box range . For this online product launch journalists were sent a unique URL which had a countdown to the launch date. A series of videos were activated about the Evolution Roof Box revealing all the benefits and features.
  • 2003 – PM organised a photoshoot to create lifestyle images for Thule, in response to UK press requests (at that time Thule only used product images). Thule HQ followed our lead and started creating their own lifestyle press images for new products.
  • 2005/6 – PM entered into a highly successful collaboration with Eurocamp camping holidays. We organised joint advertising promotions and a Thule photoshoot in France. The in-store dealer promotions we created saw a 22% increase in off-peak sales.
  • 2008 – PM created the Karrite roof boxes website (Karrite is a budget roof box brand owned by the Thule Group).
  • 2012 – PM led the successful UK launch event of the Thule Pack ‘n Pedal bike panniers at London’s iconic Gherkin , with the UK’s top bike and lifestyle media present, marking Thule’s UK launch into the Luggage & Bags category.
  • 2013 – PM project managed a highly effective international photoshoot in the Scottish Highlands for Thule’s new category of hiking backpacks. Images of this shoot are still used as Thule’s global flagship images.
  • 2014 – Successful PR exposure campaign around the Thule Glide and Thule Urban Glide sports baby strollers, focussing on influential mummy bloggers and social media influencers, marking Thule’s UK launch into the Active with Kids category.
  • 2016 – Noteworthy PR media awareness campaign around the Thule Subterra luggage range , focussing on top tier-lifestyle and fashion media, strongly positioning Thule as a luxury lifestyle brand in the UK.

Business Impact

PM’s support in Thule’s journey has made a significant positive difference to Thule’s success:

  • PM has successfully raised Thule’s profile in the UK; PM has increased Thule’s UK brand awareness; and PM has contributed to an increase in Thule’s UK sales across all categories.
  • Thule now is the UK number one brand – both in terms of retail presence and sales – in roof boxes, roof racks and bike racks. Additionally, Thule is now the UK market leader in camera bags and bike trailers.
  • Last but not least, PM has helped Thule grow rapidly in the UK in the notoriously saturated product categories of luggage and baby strollers, successfully identifying and positioning Thule’s niche brand offering in these markets.
  • Thule UK now has its headquarters in Haverhill, Suffolk, employing over 50 people, with an ever increasing external sales team covering the entire UK and Northern Ireland.

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