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No warehouses in Portsmouth big enough to cope with 20% annual growth of cycling behemoth

The online retailer Wiggle is on the long-anticipated move from its base in Portsmouth to a new warehouse operation in Wolverhampton - and says the transition will be complete in just six months.

150 jobs will be created in the Midlands as a result of the move to a 323,000 square foot unit at a logistics facility at Bilston near Wolverhampton, and the new space will allow the company to continue with its 15 to 20% year on year growth.

Wiggle’s operations director, Nicholas Pink, told the Express and Star that work has already started on making The Citadel warehouse in Bilston ready for trading.

“At the moment we are looking at that being finished by mid July,” he said. “We will then be moving all our stock from our three warehouses in Portsmouth.

“By October we should be 100 per cent live and ready for Christmas.”

The new location – more than four times the size of a football pitch – is at Citadel Logistics Centre and as well as bringing its warehousing facilities together at one location will also help the business, now selling to more than 1 million customers in 70 countries worldwide, continue its growth.

Wiggle will keep its head office in Portsmouth, where in 1920 the company started life as Butlers bike shop. It went online in 1999 and by last year it was turning over £168 million.

Wolverhampton city council economy leader Peter Bilson said: “We have been working closely with Wiggle to make its relocation as smooth as possible, ensuring the conditions are right and offering any support we can in terms of recruitment.

"This is great news for the city – having a leading national brand like Wiggle making Wolverhampton its home, bringing in further investment and creating many jobs.

"We hope having a company with sport as its driver will inspire people here to become more active and lead healthy lifestyles. Wiggle’s location to this area will also add to Bilston’s multi-million pound regeneration which will see new homes, leisure and business development.”

It’s not clear how many of the Portsmouth staff will be relocated, but there could be as many as 100 redundancies in Portsmouth as a result of the move.

The Wolverhampton site has good motorway links, located six miles from junction 1 of the M5 and 10 miles from junction 10 of the M6. The site is owned and operated by Goodman UK Logistics.

In April last year, Wiggle revealed that it was setting up repair and servicing centres at several business parks operated by Goodman, aiming to provide face-to-face customer service alongside to its online offer. Initially rolled out to three locations, more are likely to follow.

Last year we reported how local politicians were concerned at the possible loss of jobs in Portsmouth have said they will try and help Wiggle find premises.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said: "We are always looking at declassifying old Ministry of Defence sites and other public land across the region.

"We have a lot of office space here but spaces for storage and factory floors is at a premium."

Councillor Luke Stubbs, Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic development, also pledged to help Wiggle find a new warehouse.

He said: "Wiggle started as a bike shop in Portsmouth nearly a century ago.

"It would be a huge shame to lose them now and obviously the loss of jobs would be a heavy blow.

"The supply of warehouse space within Portsmouth itself is pretty much fixed, but there may be sites within the wider region."

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.