by Mark Wicks
Some major shifts in the Australian karting industry have become public over the past few weeks.
DPE Kart Technology finally revealed it had purchased a number of kart shops, with the intention of entering the retail sector via a new “DPE Kart Superstores” concept; a one-place-that-has-it-all store for karters.
In Victoria, Master Karting and KerbRider were merged to become the Victorian Superstore, housed in the Kerbrider premises.
In Queensand, IP Karting Australia and G-Force Karting were merged with Pacific Kartsport, the Sunny State’s Superstore operating out of the Pacific Kartsport premises.
As a result of these deals, DPE has added Energy, Corsa and Praga chassis to the list of brands available.
Details of the NSW Super Store have yet to be confirmed.
Earlier this week, a privately run Facebook page – Federation of Australian Racing Karters Union – suggested DPE was going to form a promotions company to run its own race meetings across the country in direct competition with Karting Australia.
While that’s not correct, it’s not totally wrong either.
“I need to back track to explain, because that’s been blown out of proportion” DPE’s Bart Price said of the post.
“We regularly communicate with our dealers and through talking with them it became apparent that a number of them were looking to change up their business models & were quite open that if there was a buyer, they would be willing to have a discussion about selling, ” Price told KartSportNews.
“After consulting a number of people and running some numbers – the Superstore concept was born”.
“By no means is our aim to ‘dominate’ the sport and wipe out the independent kart dealers that are doing such a great job – that would be counter-intuitive as they are customers of DPE and many have supported us since the very beginning.
“We’ve identified a concept that can extend our business and create economies of scale while benefiting others and above all – bring new people to the sport which benefits everyone.”
DPE manufacture karts, import and distribute a wide range of chassis, accessories and other karting gear. The company had built a wide and successful dealer network, but was not involved in the retail side of things.
“As I said before, we picked up on a common thread, ran the numbers, considered the opportunities and found it was viable. Most of all – which was paramount to us – we were able to offer those involved in the businesses the option of continuing to work in the karting industry, or the chance to sell and exit.
So, by purchasing the kart shops mentioned, DPE now have direct contact with the end consumer.
And that leads to the next subject.
“We’ve often had discussions within the organisation about how we can get more people into the sport,” Bart continued.
“While the sport (ie, Karting Australia) does do this more than it has in the past, I feel that our Superstores can do more.
“Before most people buy into something, they want to have a go first.
“With the retail network we’re setting up, we can utlilise that network to bring new karters into the sport.
“But we need to be able to take them to a track, give them a go, give them a proper feel for it.”
It’s for this reason DPE has been contacting kart clubs.
“Yes, we have been in contact with a number of clubs regarding hiring their track privately” Bart confirmed.
“That’s so that we can go and run our own come-and-try days, put on the likes of corporate events & whatever other creative ideas we can come up with”.
Price also confirmed that Steve Macken has been appointed General Manager of DPE.
“He’s been a huge asset” Bart said.
“We started talking about this around 6 months ago, so I employed him to manage the project of the DPE Kart Superstores. He’s been extremely valuable in so many areas of the business.
“This has been a massive project and there is still so much to do. From a personal perspective, I have learnt so much through this project that I know will benefit our customers at all levels & the kart clubs. I’m really excited about the future & can’t wait to see our vision come to life for the better of the sport. ”