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Halfords reveals plans to shut Cycle Republic chain

Boardman Performance Centre also set to be closed following business review

Halfords has said that it plans to close its Cycle Republic chain, currently trading from 22 stores throughout the country, following a review of the business. The company, which sells more bikes than any other retailer in the UK, has also said that it plans to shut the Boardman Performance Centre. 

In a statement, Halfords said that the proposed closure of the chain, relaunched in late 2014 with its first store next to London’s Euston Tower, “reflects the challenging economics of a store-based dedicated performance cycling operation.

“Exiting a low-returning, stock intensive business allows us to improve our return on capital whilst freeing up investment and resources to continue to drive our services-focused strategy, with an emphasis on accelerating the growth of our motoring businesses.

“The proposed closure is expected to be marginally accretive to earnings in FY21 and will also enhance cashflow and net debt on an ongoing basis, principally through lower working capital requirements.”

The 2014 relaunch of the brand came five years after the retailer announced in September 2009 that it was closing its then eight standalone bike shops, trading under either the Bikehut or Cycle Republic fascias.

One store, in York, closed, with the other seven converted into high street branches of Halfords. The Bikehut brand itself was retained for use within Halfords stores.

> Bye bye Bikehut … on the High Street

In today's announcement, Halfords said that it would be consulting with 226 staff impacted by the decision and hoped to avoid redundancies as far as possible, adding that it plans to focus on its mainly online Tredz business, bought in 2016.

The company said that Tredz "offers a winning proposition for the Halfords Group to unlock its ambitions to grow and enhance the performance cycling market.”

It continued: “The group proposes to reduce the overlap in its brands and singularly focus its investment and resources into Tredz. We intend to make an initial substantial investment in logistics and It infrastructure during the course of the next financial to help Tredz further growth.”

The company added: "Mainstream and performance cycling are important markets for Halfords.

“With the proposed investment in Tredz, alongside the core Halfords Retail cycling business, the company believes it will be uniquely placed to serve both the enthusiast and the mainstream customer and support further market growth. 

“Both Tredz and Halfords Retail offer unique and differentiated customer propositions, with high brand equity and stronger business economics.”

Incorporating a wind tunnel and a physiology lab, the Boardman Performance Centre opened in Redditch, Worcestershire (the town where Halfords is based) in 2018.

> Wind assisted: a day at the Boardman Performance Centre

Commenting on its planned closure today Chris Boardman, who remains chairman of the Boardman Bikes business he sold to Halfords in 2014, said: “Whilst I’m obviously disappointed the Performance Centre isn’t going to form part of our strategy going forward, I do understand the immense pressure Halfords, along with other retailers, is under right now.

“Pioneering, worlds-first things like this take courage to back, and we need to remember Halfords showed leadership in enabling us to do something different and wonderful.

“This was a tough decision and I know it wasn’t taken lightly. It is my hope that we can find someone who is in a position to take the centre on as a going concern.

“It’s still an amazing place and most importantly, it has an amazing team. That’s what I will be striving for over the next few weeks.”

Halfords CEO Graham Stapleton commented: “The board has come to the difficult, but necessary, decision to propose the closure of Cycle Republic, our retail store-focussed performance cycling brand.

“This proposal is not a reflection of the hard work of our Cycle Republic colleagues, who I would like to thank for their commitment and passion in serving our customers.

“We are now moving into a Classification: Restricted period of consultation with impacted colleagues with a view to mitigating as many redundancies as possible.

“Going forward we propose to focus our investment and resources in Halfords and Tredz, through which we will deliver market-leading specialist propositions for both mainstream and enthusiast cyclists via a business model that improves our overall economics.”

News of the planned closure of Cycle Republic comes two months after road.cc revealed that retail group Outdoor and Cycle Concepts had informed staff at its Cycle Surgery chain that it planned to close that business, which it described as “unsustainable.”

> Cycle Surgery to be closed down as owners declare business “unsustainable”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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11 comments

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melliott | 3 years ago
1 like

It's a shame. I have used the branch in Nottingham on a few occasions and found them decent value and good service. That said, I prefer to use my LBS in my own town where possible.

I wonder if they will still honour the free British Cycling service now as I've got a bike that needs a fettle...?

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Run BMC | 3 years ago
1 like

Shame.  I'd recently used them a couple of times and had nothing but great experiences.  Staff were very experienced and helpful.

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Chris Hayes | 3 years ago
2 likes

We've seen a supply-side explosion in cycling over the past decade - just as demand peaked - and selling cycling goods has turned into a dog-eat-dog world: LBS eaten by chainstore; chainstore eaten by internet retailers; and now they've fucked everything up internet retailers are either eating themselves.  

I bought a vastly reduced bike bag on eBay last year only to find that the seller wasn't someone 'who'd changed their mind about the bag', but Wiggle - no less - using eBay to dump excess stock. 

Let's hope that some of the exceptional staff that are being let go by the chainstores decide to set up their own LBSs: the business models will have to adapt, but fitting shops and repair shops will always be needed. 

 

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bonzobanana | 3 years ago
2 likes

I only visited a couple Cycle Republic stores but they seemed good and enjoyed browsing around. Not surprised about the store closures except I thought we were on the verge of a e-bike sales explosion. E-bikes need more complicated maintenance and that maintenance needs to be local so I thought the stores had potential to do well in that environment. 

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ktache replied to bonzobanana | 3 years ago
1 like

Unless e-bikes get purchased like all other bikes in the UK, with great intentions, and then get left in the shed/garage to rot.

Though with the cost of e-bikes getting a few repairs done is unlikely to be as costly as the bicycle.

But of course if the Great British public reverts to type they will be cheap as chips e-bikes, impossible to repair because they use weird parts that are no longer available.  We are not talking Bosch motors here.

Avatar
bonzobanana replied to ktache | 3 years ago
0 likes
ktache wrote:

Unless e-bikes get purchased like all other bikes in the UK, with great intentions, and then get left in the shed/garage to rot.

Though with the cost of e-bikes getting a few repairs done is unlikely to be as costly as the bicycle.

But of course if the Great British public reverts to type they will be cheap as chips e-bikes, impossible to repair because they use weird parts that are no longer available.  We are not talking Bosch motors here.

I'm not sure what you mean the cheap e-bikes tend to be easy to repair and upgrade as they use fairly standard parts. Cheap hub motors either have no moving parts inside (direct drive) except for the axle or geared hub motors have 3 planetary gears which you can source from aliexpress etc. Bosch motors are notoriously unreliable with frequent failures, they use small motors, nylon gears, sometimes belts and a lot of the electronics are in the motor assembly itself. Being mid-mount they also put all these additional power through the normal drivechain so they can chew through chains. Not only that but Bosch restrict the supply of spares so the bikes can only be repaired by official service centres. It can be incredibly expensive. I've seen comments in forums where someone has had a hub motor e-bike and done nothing to it over 2 years of ownership but has had  frequent repairs on his mid-mount Bosch motor on his e-mountain bike. Worse still is Brose where the motor just destroys itself and become unrepairable meaning  a whole motor replacement which you hope is under warranty. Obviously mid-mount motors have a performance advantage but for most a simple hub motor is a far better and cheaper option.

 

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Awavey | 3 years ago
1 like

Fwiw and maybe I was just unlucky and got stuck with the newbie trainee, but when I used Cycle Republic once to get some new rim brake cartridges for my Boardman bike,thinking well they sell the bike they must know what is best for it,they sold me some MTB blocks instead assuring me theyd fit and were just as good. Now they fitted, after a fashion,and some extended fettling of cable and brake holder positions, but they werent what I wanted or needed, and since then I've treated them as just a normal Halfords.

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Legin | 3 years ago
1 like

I've always used my local bike shop; who not only provide great service at reasonable prices but sling some money in to the sport as well. Even so you have to feel sorry for the individuals impacted by this decision.

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NPlus1Bikelights | 3 years ago
1 like

Shame indeed, staff were good and friendly, even tried to save me money. They also from my experience of a handful of stores could do a good Brompton service which Evans cannot. 

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Andski808 | 3 years ago
5 likes

Shame. I liked shopping in the Lime St / City branch. Sooo much nicer than Evans. But it was noticeable after Xmas that the amount and variety of stock had been cut right back. I guess even a boom in cycling can't save bricks and mortar businesses if everyone merrily browses in store but goes and purchases online. Staff seemed knowledgeable and well-trained so hope they all find places elsewhere quickly.

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Innerlube replied to Andski808 | 3 years ago
0 likes

Echo this. When I worked in the City they were my LBS. V. helpful and knowledgeable staff..

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