Will UK’s Cycle Republic Succeed Where Evans Failed?
REDITTCH, UK – Whilst 2018 saw the well-documented collapse of high street bike retailer Evans in the UK there was little in the press about competitor Cycle Republic, despite the fact that the high street competitor to Evans appears to have grown slowly but surely throughout 2018. What made the difference between these two retailers?
Whilst Evans deep financial difficulties resulted in a bidding war and its sale to Sports Direct (with consequent branch closures), Halfords-owned Cycle Republic opened stores and signed new deals.
Indeed, Cycle Republic saw large retail openings in major cities including Glasgow, Liverpool and Newcastle whilst they also did partnership deals with the likes of Brompton, Orbea and Endura. Another interesting Cycle Republic development is that a Brompton branded ‘sub-shop’ has opened in Manchester.
Store count Cycle Republic versus Evans
Cycle Republic now has 21 stores across the UK. The new 5,400 square foot Manchester shop is on London Road near Manchester’s Piccadilly station, which is also the location of Brompton Bike Hire docks. By contrast Evans pre-sale 60 plus chain of shops is slated to be reduced by 50%.
Cycle republic owner Halfords claims a 20% plus share of the UK cycling market with more than 450 Halfords branded auto and cycle stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland. It has also put considerable resources into online sales.
High street retailing in trouble
2019 looks like it could be a tough year for high street retailing in the UK again. Sports Direct boss and new owner of Evans recently told UK MPs “the high street is dead” and his own philosophy to inject life back into it by selling heavily discounted goods in shops deemed to be profitable (others are quickly sold), backed by online retailing. By contrast Cycle Republic have taken their cycle offering upmarket by signing up with the likes of Brompton and expanding their bricks and mortar network of late.
There has been speculation in the UK press that online purchases for all retail sales (not just cycling products) have peaked at about 20%. Will new developments such as browserless shopping (think Alexa etc) continue the rise of internet sales? With this backdrop in mind it will be interesting to see which of Evans’ and Cycle Republic’s contrasting approaches to cycle retail are more successful.