UK’s Evans Cycles High Street Chain Sold
LONDON, UK – Major UK cycle retailer Evans Cycles has been sold to London-based private equity firm ECI in a deal worth around GBP 100 million (€ 138.5mn).
Evans is the major cycle retailer on the UK’s high streets; although its 56 shops are dwarfed by Halfords’ 460 stores, Evans occupy town centre locations whilst Halfords superstores are often on edge of town locations (though Halford’s Cycle Republic store brand, launched in London, is looking to change this). Evans also has a significant web sales presence but faces stiff digital competition from UK-based giants Wiggle and Chain Reaction.
London family firm
Previous owners, Active Private Equity, bought Evans in 2008. The company began in the 1920s as a London family firm before its latter day nationwide expansion. Amongst Evans’ recent developments have been the launch its own brand bikes, Pinnacle, and a brand endorsement deal with Olympic champion Chris Hoy to introduce Hoy bikes.
300% rise in sales
ECI will hold what it described as a “significant majority” stake in Evans with the remainder of the group owned by its management. Chief executive Nick Wilkinson will remain in post. ECI’s brief now is clearly to help plan and fund further expansion, as it has done in the past with businesses such as Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury. The purchase of Evans by Active in 2008 for GBP 35 million (€ 48.6mn) saw significant expansion of retail outlets and a reported 300% rise in sales since 2008.
Halfords, Specialized and Trek
Halfords were understood to be interested in bidding but were closed out of the auction after Evans suppliers raised concerns; both Specialized and Trek supply Evans but refuse to supply Halfords.
Sports Direct (a sports goods not stocking cycling products) were also a potential rival bidder but further concerns were raised that product price cutting might ensue; Evans stock bikes at a wide range of price points but premium brands such as Brompton and Hoy are a key element in their appeal to customers.