Nautilus is switching suppliers to build its next-generation of the iconic Schwinn Airdyne, but SNEWS has learned the change will cause problems for fitness retailers selling parts and offering service on the current Airdyne AD4 and EvoComp models.
Nautilus expects to launch the new Schwinn Airdyne AD6 this fall with a new partner after “our supplier who manufacturers the current models has informed us that they will no longer produce these machines after the end of this year,” company officials told SNEWS. The supplier also will discontinue making replacement parts for the older equipment.
So when Glen Martin, co-owner of Martins Bike Shop in Ephrata, Pa. attempted to order some replacement parts for Aridynes and EvoComps a week ago, he said Nautilus turned down the request.
That’s a loss of business for the specialty retailer, he said. Fitness and bike shops garnered some business by ordering the parts to fix older machines onsite at hospitals, schools and homes that were broken from wear and tear, outside of what is covered by warranty.
“It’s unfortunate, because that sell of service is a way we differentiate ourselves from the big-box store,” Martin said.
Nautilus officials told SNEWS the company will reserve its own stock of replacement parts for the older machines, which it will then use to directly support warranties or sell to consumers.
“Our customer service team will continue to make every effort to meet our customer’s needs in regards to their product,” officials said. “We are excited about our new AD6 Airdyne launch, and look forward to seeing it in the market.”
The decision to bypass retailers the parts could leave a sour taste in the mouth of some stores, who continue to see Nautilus increase its direct-to-consumer business over retail.
For the first quarter 2012, Nautilus (NYSE:NLS) reported its direct sales up 11.5 percent to $33.7 million, while its retail sales slipped 2.4 percent to $16.6 million. Nautilus makes more profit with those direct sales — reporting a gross margin of 56.5 percent on direct sales in the first quarter versus a gross margin of 23.8 percent for its retail sales.