If proof were needed that the bicycle industry is thriving during the recession, it’s been confirmed by the news that Bath-based Cyclescheme has been named the fastest-growing private company in Britain in this year’s Fast Track 100 league table, published in The Sunday Times.
The prestigious accolade reflects the company’s phenomenal growth, which has seen sales rocket by 348% a year from an annualised £253,000 in 2006 to £22.7m in 2009.
Cyclescheme, which helps companies provide bikes to their employees under the government’s Cycle to Work scheme, was founded by Richard Grigsby and Gary Cooper in 2005.
The pair, who owned a shop specialising in folding bikes in Bath as well as the website www.foldingbikes.co.uk, decided to found Cyclescheme after a national Cycle to Work provider refused to let their shop participate in the scheme.
The business now operates Cycle to Work schemes for some 8,500 businesses in the UK, including household names such as the BBC and Coca-Cola, as well as one in three of Britain’s councils and police forces, and to date has helped with the purchase of over 100,000 bicycles.
To enable employers to administer their schemes with the minimum of fuss, Cyclescheme has built an online platform that allows them to complete invoices, contracts and hire agreements via the internet, making life easier for the businesses concerned as well as their staff and the 1,500 independent bike dealerships it works with.
The Cycle To Work scheme was introduced by the government in 1999 to enable workers to buy bikes and associated equipment through their employers via a salary sacrifice scheme, meaning that they enjoy a tax benefit that reduces the cost to them by between a third and a half.
In effect, staff lease the bikes from their employers until the end of the contract period, at which point they can make a one-off payment, typically for a nominal sum, to secure full ownership.
Initially, Cyclescheme signed up ten local bike shops as partners, but it now deals with the vast majority of Britain’s IBDs, who have been encouraged to participate by major bike manufacturers such as Trek, Giant and Specialized.
Grigsby and Cooper are targeting further growth, and earlier this year won an open tender with the Department for Communities and Local Government to give access to the scheme to more than 3.5m government staff.
The Fast Track 100 league table is compiled by the Oxford-based research and events company, Fast Track, and is now in its 13th year. Past winners of the award include retailer Hotel Chocolat in 2008 and hair styling products manufacturer GHD in 2005.
Since it began in 1997, the league table has been sponsored by Virgin, whose chairman, Sir Richard Branson, said: “The last year has been one of the toughest I remember in business; but the fear of the early part of 2009 has been replaced by optimism we will find a way through. This sense of optimism is reflected in the sterling performance of the Fast Track 100 companies who are expecting impressive continued growth this year.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.