Trends & Features

Industry Interview: Alistair Crawford, director of distributor Live On The Edge

When did you get into the sports trade?
In 2008, as a result of the economic downturn. I have had a passion for sport since I was a child and it’s great to work in an industry you have a passion for.

Biggest influence on your career?
Working with dyslexia has given me the drive to overcome what everyone takes for granted, such as good spelling, punctuation, grammar and more. My father is also an inspiration. He had a successful career in financial services and has been a valuable mentor.

What brands do you admire and why?
Apple is an iconic brand. I admire how it regularly launches new products, listens to its customers and finds solutions to their needs. It’s also got a great track record when it comes to innovation.

Biggest career highlight to date?
Building Live On The Edge into a successful business, which would never have been achieved without our retail customer base and the agents who work with me.

When did you set up Live On The Edge? Can you tell us about the business?
I set the business up while I was a student – I still have the first cheque book given to me by Bank of Scotland. It was always in the background, but the financial crisis in 2008 re-kick started the business and I focused on importing a brand called SLS3.

I had to invest my own money in the business, which was nerve racking at the outset. I also had to build a website, order stock, negotiate my way through customs as a novice, engage with customers and retail clients and understand their needs while working a full-time job.

It was exceptionally satisfying when everything started to come together. However, people forget how hard it is running your own business and that should not be underestimated. I had a young family, but I was working seven days a week. Sometimes I started at 5.30am – my iPad and phone live beside my bed at night. I have been known to reply to US emails at 3am and have conference calls at midnight to ensure we are on top of our game.

As the owner, I have to know my customers. I speak to Greaves Sports in Glasgow weekly at 7.30am to ensure products are selling through and there are no issues. Other clients email, text or call at 9.30pm placing orders – it’s all about meeting everyone’s expectations.

The team that works for me know I want them to make their own decisions, thus creating an entrepreneurial environment. Our graphic designer has got used to our conversations at 10.30pm when we are trying to make a 9am deadline. I believe the team feel they are part of something and all contribute to the business in delivering its needs. I am a strong believer in stretching colleagues, while recognising everyone’s capabilities. We all learn from each other and have mutual respect.

What do you look for in a product before you consider distributing it?
We always try and gain an indicative perception of how the product would be perceived in the retail market and whether it will add value to the retailer and the end customer. Will the product sell on a repeat basis and give the retailer the necessary footfall to increase broader sales?

I speak to a select few of our clients to gain their view on the product/brand before we place an order to ensure they are supportive. It has to sit in our range of preventive and recovery products and has to be seen as a long-term product, not one that’s here today and gone tomorrow.

What plans have you got for the business in 2015?
We’re going to continue to build stronger relationships with the retailers we currently work with and new retail clients. We will strive to look for new brands that will complement our range and ensure clients’ needs and expectations are met in the UK and Ireland.

For more information call 0131 344 4730 or visit

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