The history of Lomo
|The beginnings - 2000-2005|
We started Lomo back in the year 2000 when the internet was still in the early stages and not many people were selling this kind of gear through a website. At that time we were focused on producing wetsuits and decided to be one of the first people to sell wetsuits online. We decided that a direct sales approach would best suit us and that avoiding traditional distribution and retailing would allow us to sell our products at a much lower cost than would otherwise be possible.
We launched 3 products;
The first version of the Hurricane Wetsuit, a Neoprene Glove and a Wetsuit Bootie......
Back then, just about everything had the letter 'E' tagged onto it ; E-commerce, E-Business, E-Books.... and so we decided out website should be E-wetsuits.com . It doesn't quit fit as well anymore as we now have several hundred different products and only around 10% of them are actually wetsuits! But with so many people who know the site, and with so many other websites that link to it, we have kept the website name along with our more predictable Lomo.co.uk domain name that many of you will now use.
We had a background in manufacturing and from outset knew that the world had changed from being a place where manufacturers had their own factories, to one where most of the manufacturing would be outsourced to specialist companies for each different product type. You could say that most manufacturers were converting to being 'brand owners' and designers who subcontracted the actual manufacturing part to outside companies.
We knew that this would be the right strategy for us as it would allow us to use the very same production line techniques and high value equipment as companies 100 times our size. The cost of setting up a factory would no longer be a barrier to producing world class products.
In the beginning we had a small industrial unit in Glasgow's East End for storage and worked from home from an admin standpoint. This helped keep our costs down for the first few years until 2003 when we opened our first small shop in the West end of Glasgow.
This period saw us grow and our product range widen. Our range of kayaking gear began to expand and drybags started to become a key product line for us. The main sports we were supporting were sailing, kayaking, diving and outdoor centre equipment. The introduction of a range of drysuits took us to a new level in product design and brought another new group of customers to us for the first time.
In 2007 we moved from our small retail store in Glasgow's West End, to a larger warehouse building in Hydepark Street , close to Glasgow city centre. This allowed us to bring warehousing and sales under one roof. The new building allowed us to expand our repair facilities and prototyping workshop. The new building also allowed us to have a larger outlet store with onsite customer parking.
|Our product line continued to expand and we started to cover a wider range of sports. Triathlon and motorcycling began to play a larger part in our product line and many new products were launched for these markets including triathlon wetsuits and motorcycle dry bags. We also continued with our ever expanding range for our traditional watersports markets.|
We continued to win numerous industry awards which really highlighted our 'best value' approach to product development. In addition to watersports magazine awards we were delighted , as newcomers to the industry, In 2013 to win the Ride Magazine 'Best Motorcycle Rucksack' award, much to the annoyance of several big players in the sector. Our 30L Dry Bag Daysack, which won this award, continues to be a top seller.
In 2013 it was time for us to move again... but this time not too far. We had outgrown the current warehouse and by good luck the warehouse next door was vacant, and at double the size was just what we needed. So in January 2014 we moved into 11,000 Sq ft of warehouse at no. 96 Hydepark Street, Glasgow.
This new premises was split into warehouse, office, outlet store and workshop. Each department had much more space than before and the facilities were expanded into each area. We installed improved drysuit testing facilities and broadened the range of prototyping and wetsuit repair equipment available to our technicians.
Social media became increasingly important for spreading the work about our products and our Youtube channel is very popular with more and more of our products having a demonstration video to help you understand the features of each item.
|Looking towards the future we intend to continue to develop more and more value leading products and expand our sales further into Europe and beyond. Our core sports of Kayaking, sailing and diving, and key product lines of wetsuits, drysuits and dry bags, will continue to play a central role in addition to our newer range of triathlon and motorcycle gear.|
The triathlon sector has taken us into the cycling and running world and we plan a range of gear for these sports as well as for the swimming sector. Another range we are developing is for the general outdoors market. Most of our customers will do some camping or hill walking now and again and having a range of key items would be helpful in this market too.
|Our product range continued to expand and open water swimming became increasingly popular as a sport in it's own right. Swimming became one of our core product ranges and joined kayaking and our other existing sports in the list or sports we have a credible range of products for. |
When the pandemic hit we initially had most of our staff on furlough whilst a small skeleton crew kept the company going and shipping orders to customers who were shopping online. Our Glasgow store remained closed for many months in line with the rest of the country but the online trade steadily grew back as people were able to enjoy most of the outdoors again.
Social distancing requirements meant that we had to move our staff our of the office as their desks were too close together and we cut the shop in half so we could use the floor space for desks. This allowed us to operate whilst keeping our staff safe. At some point we hope to open the shop again in it's old, larger fashion but for now we have all our products available but in a smaller floor space.