Tesco, the UK’s biggest retailer, has set its sights on the bicycle sector, opening a ‘Bike Shop’ concept at a number of its stores, according to the trade website, BikeBiz.
Rumours that the supermarket giant had been considering such a move had been circulating for some time, and a Tesco spokesman has confirmed that it has opened Bike Shops at seven stores, including one in Chesterfield.
The retailer is also offering customers the option of having the bikes they buy built by trained staff, which BikeBiz believes is the first time such a service has been offered by a supermarket.
The provision of an assembly service does give Tesco a point of difference to its non-specialist competitors at the lower end of the market. Last year, the difficulty of self-assembly of flat-pack bikes from retailers including Asda, Tesco and Argos, and the dangers that can arise if they are put together incorrectly, were highlighted in a BBC Watchdog programme addressing the issue of so-called BSOs – bicycle-shaped objects.
A spokesman for Tesco told BikeBiz: “We launched Bike Shops in seven of our stores before Christmas. These stores had a specific area for bikes and offered the option to have the bike assembled. “
He continued, “They have been very popular with customers who have appreciated having trained experts to help them pick the right bike and assemble it. Our West Durrington store is the latest to open with a Bike Shop.”
It’s unclear at the moment which brands the dedicated Bike Shops sell – perhaps any road.cc readers in Chesterfield or West Durrington could enlighten us on that point – we’re guessing that it’s unlikely you’ll be able to pick up a Colnago with your corn flakes or a Bianchi with your baked beans any time soon. Raleigh has confirmed to BikeBiz that it was not involved with Tesco on the concept.
It’s likely though that he offer though will be pitched at the lower end of the mass market. Tesco’s largest ‘store’ in terms of the range of goods offered is its Tesco Direct website, which sells bicycles across two broad categories - City, Hybrid & Folding Bikes and Mountain Bikes – with price points below the £200 mark on all models other than an electric bike that sells for almost £600. Brands stocked are Emmelle, Flight, Flite, Meerkat, Terrain and Vittesse.
The supermarket operator told BikeBiz that it is keeping an eye the performance of the seven Bike Shops opened to date and that the concept may be rolled out to other stores, with its spokesman saying: “We will continue to monitor what our customers think about our Bike Shops and we will look to see where else we can introduce them.”
Commenting on Tesco’s development of the Bike Shop concept, retail expert Richard Perks of the consumer research consultancy Mintel told road.cc: “Tesco is a very astute retailer and it is not one to ignore a growing market. It has the space to retail bikes in its Tesco Extra stores and might be able to introduce them into other stores, if appropriate. It has some experience in the market already, but it'll be interesting to see how far it wants to go.”
He continued: “The classic supermarket strategy would be to cream the market - introduce ranges of bikes geared to the lower end of the market, make sure they are very price competitive (by buying in bulk) and aim for volume sales.”
Mr Perks believes that for now at least, Tesco’s efforts will be focused on the mass market. “It is hardly likely to want to get into higher specifications or servicing, at least not at this stage,” he explained. “That strategy might cause problems for many bike retailers, but it would probably also expand the market and lead to people wanting to trade up as well.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.