Gary Cox talks to James Marchington as Bisley Sports Wholesale share their newest products, including the latest gear from Castellani
The Castellani name is synonymous with leading shooting sportswear. Often spotted at elite sporting events, the range of clothing and accessories are now the official ISSF supplier.
But despite such wide international appeal – 110 athletes wore Castellani during the London Olympic Games – the brand had limited wholesale presence in the UK.
That was until Bisley Sports Wholesale struck a deal to supply the Italian brand earlier this year. Speaking at an Oxford Gun Company event, Gary Cox explained how the wholesale branch of the National Small-bore Rifle Association secured the deal.
“We are always looking to have something new, but when we went to IWA this year and made contact with Castellani, they decided that they we looking for a wholesaler – someone to represent them in the UK – and we fit the bill. They quite like the idea that we were part of a governing body, which was a real bonus.”
Based at the NSRA’s HQ, Bisley Camp’s Lord Roberts Centre, Bisley Sports Wholesale are also the agents for Walther small-bore rifles, air rifles and pistols, Hammerli air rifles and pistols, Gehmann shooting accessories as well as rimfire ammunition from Lapua and SK.
They announced the addition of Castellani to their portfolio in May. As Gary says: “It has been a very busy year, and after winning Castellani it has been even busier still.
“It is a new customer base for us. We have very much been into the target rifle market but Castellani are so well known. 95 per cent of all international teams wear Castellani vests, and although it is well-known, I’m sure they are working on the other five per cent.”
Gary remarks: “I wouldn’t like to say too much about what has happened in the past, but people have been selling them in the UK. But as far as we know, there has never been anybody officially appointed in the UK until now – that is what we are led to believe anyway!”
“With the glasses, Pilla seem to have the market sown up at the moment, but we want to make a dent in that and publicise and show off the Castellani range.
“As a wholesaler we are here to support the retailer, especially in this particular case. It is the retailers that need to be at the shows, and pushing the products at events, but we will support them wherever they need supporting.
“They are very good glasses,” adds Gary. “They come in four different types of glass; C Mask II is the most common one, C Mask Pro is the best one, and you have the other two in between. The C Mask and C Mask II are very similar, the frames are different and the lenses are a crossover between one and the other – so it is just a case of choosing which frame you want.
“The Pro are a different size and shape and have an extra coating on there – which makes them a little bit more expensive of course. Then you have the B Fast, which is a more traditional glass, with two separate lenses on a frame and more traditional looking glasses,” Gary explains.
The next step for increasing the reach of the Castellani brand is exposure. Work is already under way to increase the reach of the products through gun shops and shooting grounds.
“If you walk into a gun shop you are more than likely to see a rack of these hanging up – at least I hope so! There are a number of shooting grounds that are stocking already.
“I haven’t got round to all of the grounds yet, but I will do and hopefully they will all buy into it. A lot of them do stock them already, thanks to the previous people, but the idea is to grow Castellani into the number one brand in the UK.
“I will be going round to the shooting grounds and any gun shops that want to take that on. Anything that is available, we will get through Bisley Sports Wholesale for you.
“We have a large amount of stock at the moment, but with such a wide range of colours, sizes and styles, you can’t stock it all. So we have gone for a selection and anybody who wants something else – we will be able to get it for them.
“As a true wholesaler, we won’t be selling directly to the public. We sell to the retailers to sell to the public, so if we start going behind the retailers’ backs then all of a sudden I am going to be out of favour.
“We are a bit more professional than that – if we say we aren’t going to sell to the public then we won’t. Its as simple as that,” emphasises Gary.
“Even in the few months that we have had Castellani, we have had people call us directly, despite the fact that all of our advertising says ‘trade enquiries only’ – they still ring us directly and we point them in the direction of their nearest retailer that we know of.”
Down the Line
Gary joined Bisley Sports Wholesale four years ago, but has been shooting since he was 12. “I shoot small-bore as my first discipline,” he says, “And I shoot down-the-line clays as my second discipline. My rifle shooting is done in a competitive league every Sunday and I shoot down-the-line about once a month.
“If I can get more of that in then I will – that includes shotgun as well – but it is great fun and I really enjoy it. In fact the first thing I ever shot was a shotgun.
“My uncle took me out and I fell in love with it. So I nagged my parents to take me shooting – my mother searched around the local area, and living within the M25, she eventually found a few rifle clubs and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.”
“Now I work in the industry, and it is great that I can enjoy my hobby and get paid for it!”