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Evans Cycles branch closures fewer than expected at time of Sports Direct takeover

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley had warned half of Evans' stores would have to close when he bought it in October 2018...

Two Evans Cycles stores in London, plus branches in Leeds and Macclesfield, have put up their shutters in recent months in the latest wave of closures since the retailer was bought by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct group in October 2018 - but far fewer branches have closed since the takeover.

The closures, flagged up here by Cycling Industry News, mean that a net total of 11 stores have now closed since the retail tycoon bought the troubled retailer out of administration – although at the time of the acquisition, Ashley suggested that half of Evans’ 62 stores would have to close.

“In order to save the business, we only believe we will be able to keep 50 per cent of stores open in the future,” he said.

Soaring overheads, including rising rents, were among the factors that led the business, which is due to celebrate its centenary next year, to call in the administrators.

Sports Direct’s annual report and accounts for the 52 weeks to 28 April 2019 reveal that it bought Evans for cash consideration of £8 million plus £8.0m plus £0.8m of other assets, and that in the six months following the acquisition the business had an operating loss of £17.8 on revenue of £44.6 million.

Immediately after buying Evans, Sports Direct appointed commercial property specialists CBRE to carry out a review of the retailer’s estate.

CBRE’s head of national agency, James Keany, said: “We are looking forward to working with landlords in order to help create a sustainable business,” including discussing “the future of individual stores.”

Both the Chiswick (closed in October) and Macclesfield (November) stores were located in close proximity to branches of Halfords, while the Chalk Farm store in Camden (also closed in November) was only a kilometre or so away from another Evans branch next to St Pancras station.

The store in Leeds is the second branch to have been closed in the West Yorkshire city, following the closure of a smaller site at Leeds railway station’s Cycle Point, but only temporarily; a replacement is on its way, with Evans saying on its website, “We'll be back in January with a brand new store.”

Another recent casualty is the Evans store on The Cut near Waterloo station, one of the company’s longest-standing branches.

In all, some 51 branches are listed as currently trading on the company’s website, with some of the earlier closures – the Mark Lane branch near Tower Hill in the City of London, for example – no longer appearing.

As we reported yesterday in our article containing a Q&A with one of the company’s employees involved in the takeover of an Evans branch Instagram account which has been renamed Make Evans Great Again, uncertainty over branch closures is one of the issues said to be affecting staff morale at the business.

> Make Evans Great Again: Evans Cycles investigating "re-purposed" Instagram account (plus exclusive Q+A)

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.

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