...but retailer says it’ll learn from new Belfast branch before it takes on the High Street

Chain Reaction: ‘We’d love to open more stores’

Following the opening of Chain Reaction Cycles’ Belfast bricks and mortar store, the online bike retail giant has told BikeBiz it would love to open more High Street stores.

The 10,000 square foot store, located on Boucher Street, Belfast, opened at the end of August – the first time CRC has opened a physical store since its beginnings in 1985, before it was an online and mail order business.

CRC head of retail Jim Berkeley told BikeBiz: “The short answer is ‘yes’, we would love to open more stores. The long boring answer is that we’re an online business first and foremost and will open another store when we have learnt from our first store and feel we are ready to take on the High Street.”

“In Belfast we’re on the outskirts of town in a great location that everyone knows, with heaps of free parking and great coffee shops – good locations are hard to find. In essence we’re looking, but not rushing,” Berkeley admitted.

The new store, opened by Olympic medallist Wendy Houvenaghel, includes product aimed at the tri market.

“Many of our customers run, swim and participate in triathlons, and with race distances changing, the sport has become more accessible and inclusive. There’s a real appetite for getting involved. Chain Reaction Cycles is currently sponsoring the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championships, plus loads of local races. As the shop establishes itself we’re working hard to be the first choice for cyclists, runners and swimmers.”

Berkeley sounded a note of caution over current economic conditions, but added CRC was working hard to provide value for customers – both in store, as well as via its online stronghold.

“Generally business is good. As a company we continue to work hard to pass on the best possible value and service to our customers. There is no escaping the tough economic times that we are in, which is all the more reason for CRC to do our best to pass on value. Cycling as a sport and an activity is growing for so many reasons at the moment across the globe – in no small part because of recession, but also because cycling is healthy and just plain fun.”

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