pliptrot wrote: Quite how the mail order set-ups steal a march on those in the UK is beyond me,.
In the UK, at least, there is normally an importer/wholesaler in the supply chain, ramping up the price (well, a sales rep. has to have a company car, doesnt he? Ever see a shop mechanic with a company bike?)
Of course, if a retailer shifts enough stuff to be able to buy in wholesale quantities, then they need to set up a "wholesale business" to get supplied direct, ie get some different headed paper printed. If you can find somebody to supply you who isnt afraid of upsetting their current wholesaler, then you can buy direct and retail to the public, and trouser wholesale and retail margins, without the tiresome business of sending goods out to shops.
And if you can demonstrate that you "manufacture" more than a certain number of bikes a year, then you can get stuff "OE". You know, thats the stuff you buy brand new in a plastic bag, rather than in pretty retail packaging. I wonder if somebody is not very good at sums, because these manufacturers seem to have a lot of bits left over when they dont have any frames left, so, obviously, they have to "sell off" the bits.......
Its an unpleasant business, lots of smoke and mirrors, everything done behind closed doors.