Rebecca Morley hears from Cadence Performance’s Mike Cunningham on the business’ latest store acquisitions
This piece first appeared in the October edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
Cadence Performance has been going from strength to strength, expanding recently with Evernden Cycles in Kent joining its growing family shortly after the business acquired Giant St Paul’s in the heart of London.
The stores aim to be hubs for every level of cyclist, equipped to offer whatever they need including bike fitting, coaching, talks, ride-outs, workshop classes and memberships. “[St Paul’s] is quite an iconic location,” Cadence Performance’s Mike Cunningham told BikeBiz. “It’s quite an exciting store because it’s massive. It gives us an opportunity to be involved with Giant UK for new releases and to introduce some of the other stuff that we have done in Crystal Palace and our other stores – coaching and bike fitting, classes, and memberships.”
The Crystal Palace site was the first store for the business, and the group has since expanded to Radlett, Twickenham, Shoreham-by-Sea, St Paul’s and Evernden Cycles in Paddock Wood, Kent. Trading as Cadence initially, the latter store will transition to a Giant brand store by the end of 2022.
“They’re all different,” continued Cunningham, on the demand that each store sees. “Shoreham-by-Sea has a relatively older population, so what we’ve seen there is that the bikes that they’re buying are very different than the bikes that we’re selling for example in St Paul’s. We do sell carbon road bikes in Shoreham, but we sell far more in St Paul’s and Crystal Palace. In Shoreham, we sell a lot more e-mountain bikes and that’s really where there’s been a real explosion for us in e-bikes.
“We’re selling lots of e-bikes to people who are 50 plus, but we’re also selling a lot of e-mountain bikes to people of all ages. For us, as bike retailers, that’s quite exciting because that’s a new market. We’re not selling the second, third or fourth bike to somebody who loves their road bikes. This is potentially to people who either hadn’t ridden before, or haven’t ridden for 30 or 40 years. That’s quite an exciting change in the market.”
So is this move towards e-mobility something the industry will continue to see more of? Cadence isn’t quite seeing the same growth in its London stores, Cunningham said, whereas in the past any new trend or any change in the cycle market would be expected to start in a major city.
Cadence’s latest location is Evernden Cycles in Paddock Wood, Kent, which it took over when the previous owners ventured into retirement. The store was established in 1952 by Percival Evernden, has been a family-run business for three generations.
All staff are staying apart from the owner, Cunningham explained, and Cadence is keen to retain the store’s original customers and build on them, because those relationships are really important. “The recommendations that you get as a retailer from your ambassadors – people who like your service, like what you do and respect and appreciate it, that’s always been the lifeblood for the local bike shop. We don’t want to lose that.
“So far, the customers are really pleased for Tony [Evernden] and his wife Karen, that they’re retiring. The team, the mechanics, the workshop team are very experienced and really good and I think if we retain them, then we’re in a position where people will recognise that there’s not going to be a change in the quality. It’s just going to be a refurbishment.”
And with consumers looking to shop online more and more, is there a concern for physical bike shops? “The key bit for us is that everything fits together,” said Cunningham. “For anybody thinking they could just do bricks and mortar, that’s going to be pretty challenging. You’ve got to have a very unique, very desirable product or set of services that you’re going to sell.
“For us, it’s much more that we recognise what’s happening with direct-to-consumer brands, we recognise that the bigger brands are looking at ways to market, and so we see it very much as the retail aspect is part of us as a company, and we will work with Giant for click and collect, for home delivery. We’ve got our own e-commerce site, and we’ll join all of that together as much as we can.
“We’re hopefully as open-minded as we can be to trends in the market. The things that we’re looking at, alongside retail, are things like subscription because that’s a way for people to enjoy products or services without that need to own. We will continue to look at bricks and mortar as a very big part of our business, but we have to be open-minded to a changing market.”
Cunningham concluded: “It’s really exciting to have new people into the business. It comes with a load of challenges because not everybody loves change, and so, actually, it’s been really nice that both teams have really embraced being part of a slightly bigger group. And we’re not that big, so we can still be small enough for it to be quite close-knit and for everybody to have a voice.”