Part two of Mystery Shopper's report on Luton...


Read the first part here.

Cycle King
Luton’s Cycle King is a vast shop, even by this chain’s standards. Based on a very busy road close to two supermarkets and the town’s football ground, Cycle King is an unmissable store for passing cars, pedestrians and cyclists alike.

Naturally, the store enjoyed a great range of stock and was busy at the time of the visit. I was greeted as soon as I entered and was shown to the light product range. When I posed the question of whether night riding sans-lights was illegal, I was told that cyclists did have to use lights and was advised that there could be a fine (“about £20”). After being left to peruse the display, which carried a number of well-known brands, I was soon asked if I needed help again once the store had quietened down.

The store also stocked a range of visibility jackets, with much product residing at the value end, but still with plenty of choice on offer. While I had to ask about the differences between the types of lights on display, the service was friendly, the range was impressive and overall Cycle King provided a strong offering on the day.

Set on a retail park to the east of the town, this branch of Halfords was enjoying a lunchtime rush when Mystery Shopper visited.

The store stocked a good range of bikes, including plenty of own-brand bikes like the Apollo and Boardman ranges. Similarly, the shop had a good selection of lights ranging from the value to the high-end. However I was later advised that the store didn’t stock expensive top-end light ranges “as no one buys them”.

Visibility jackets were placed next to the lights in a good and sensible example of merchandising. Two bike-specific sales assistants were servicing a bike at the time of the visit and were happy to answer my questions on the light ranges. After my prompting we discussed the distinction between types of lights and I was advised that the cheaper LED lights were ideal for upping cyclist visibility while the other type was typically more expensive.

Overall, the range and service offered was good at the store, with all my questions answered satisfactorily and a decent range of product available to purchase.

On the day Mystery Shopper also visited Luton’s Bloomfield cycles and My Bike Shop, but sadly both were closed. Aside from that the trip revealed IBDs and multiples putting in decent, or great performances. The biggest surprise came via JJB, which provided a marked improvement in the chain’s performance, in the opinion of Mystery Shopper. Non-cycle-specific retailer Sports Direct also managed to provide relevant product, even if the service wasn’t anywhere near as detailed or well-rounded as that from the other stores.

Chief accolades have to go to Dunstable’s Dysons Cycles. Despite having no competition in the town, Dysons hasn’t rested on its laurels, providing great service, friendly advice, demonstrations and a extensive range of product

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