Kinetic Cycles eight-month old Hitchin store, as many before BikeBiz have pointed out, is like a TARDIS. From the outside you’d never guess 4,000 square feet of cycle, cake and caffeine retail lays within and it really makes an impression when you walk through the front door. One thing that stands out immediately is the abundance of natural light, which makes the store’s spacious and tidy merchandising all the more striking.
“It’s built to be shopper friendly,” explains Kinetic’s co-owner Emma Ramsdale. “We wanted customers to have room to browse in comfort, with staff readily available but not overcrowding them.”
Open for just eight months at the time of our visit, Kinetic’s story began down the road in Welwyn a few years prior, with that branch quickly making a success of itself.
“We had the option of a quiet comfortable Christmas, but the Hitchin opportunity was too good to turn away, we’d decided on taking the space within half an hour of being shown around,” adds Ramsdale.
And it’s easy to see why. With a Specialized BG bike fitting room, a café area that doubles as a venue and dedicated areas for various bike styles, clothing and accessories, the space is used to its fullest potential without overwhelming customers with stock.
In the week of our visit ten pro bike fits were booked in, which indicates that the shop’s strategy of targeting a quality over quantity of customers is working.
“We’re fortunate to have quite a good and affluent catchment area, as well as a second shop referring customers seeking bike fit our way. Although we’ll put anyone on two wheels, we cater heavily for the experienced cyclist who tends to spend a bit more on kit.
“The Welwyn branch does more volume for us, while Hitchin has a better value per transaction and we think that’s because we’ve got the top-end stock here. People will travel from within the M25 because they know we’ve both the stock and the experience to make it worthwhile.”
And the experience is about to improve further with a stunning recruit – now retired pro cyclist Emma Trott is taking the reigns as shop manager from this month. The growth doesn’t stop there, Kinetic’s Hitchin branch is on the lookout for both a store mechanic and a new bike fitter.
Having admittedly been stretched while the Women’s Tour was in Hertfordshire, the expanding workforce has plenty to be doing, with “an event nearly every weekend” over summer.
“We engage heavily with local cycling clubs,” says Ramsdale. “We’ll often send out invites to events we’re holding in store such as the Ritte press launch due shortly, or something like the Welwyn Food Festival, which gets our nutrition products in front of an entirely new audience.”
Growing women’s cycling and improving product for the ladies is something Ramsdale is particularly passionate about.
“This summer we’ve women’s rides alongside Breeze, among other things. The market is quite big for us and I think that perhaps as much as 30 per cent of our client base are ladies looking to improve their cycling experience. Few others in Hertfordshire seem to hold an equal amount of men’s and women’s stocks, while we’ve quite a keen eye on making this an engaging and worthwhile experience for females. We’ve banned pink from the store, put in a private changing area and only selected clothing labels who produce a strong mix for all.”