It’s hard to believe it’s over five years since the fire which devastated the Chicken Cyclekit business and much of the treasured history of a firm that’s been so involved with UK cycling for the past 94 years.
With the business firmly back on track thanks to some long-standing and valued relationships with its brands and a landmark anniversary now just six years down the line, the Chicken Cyclekit of today is fighting fit, having added an estimated 60 per cent to its Cherry Court Way warehouse capacity since the start of the year.
With that warehouse expansion has come new staff, new brands and a revamped workshop area, now capable of having three mechanics simultaneously building bikes, whether they be customised EPS-equipped rigs for the discerning customer, or simply warranty and service jobs, handled by experienced technical manager Gary Sanderson.
Cedric Chicken, the MD of the firm told BikeBiz: “The customer base has expanded significantly and three salesmen now cover the needs of dealers throughout the country. Gatorade has linked with us too, lending their on-the-road G-Force team to our sales force, meaning any dealer looking at nutrition brands can be seen quickly. The in-house sales team has similarly been ramped up, while the warehouse staff are now working with a new hand-held bar code picking system, which improves the flow throughout.”
A close working relationship with Campagnolo expert Greame Freestone King has enabled Chicken Cyclekit to boost its service to high-end road dealers. Fresh point of sale towers and larger demonstration and display rigs are now in stock for the dealer whose customer base follows the iconic Italian label. As you may have read earlier in this magazine, dealers are invited to the Leighton buzzard base to become experts in Campagnolo and a handful of those who are given Pro Shop status will be selected to go on a Vicenza factory tour later this year.
In August of this year, off-road brand Superior will join the stable, in Cedric’s words “making us more of a generic, one stop shop distributor for many who specialise in road, but also dabble in larger tyres.” This label, first shown at Core, has bikes for kids, men and women and a little bit of the exotic in the SPR line for the customer with a bigger budget.
Also new to stock are the Fast Rider luggage label and Vittoria Shoes, not to be confused with the tyre label also carried by Chickens. WD40 has also undergone a cycle trade specific revamp, with 3-in-1 branding now in place, each can carrying intended use instructions for the home mechanic.
With bike-fitting becoming a must have service for the serious road shops, Selle Italia’s ID Match program has landed at the right time too. With Chicken Cyclekit’s reps now all fully versed in the science behind the fit, shops with an account with the distributor can take on various packages with either a £400 or £500 buy in, providing the measuring kit and either eight or ten saddles, respectively. Alternatively, the ID Match tools can be bought for £200 from Chicken.
It’s a clever bit of kit, measuring the hip bones an index finger’s length down to find the widest point, then the thigh circumference, which co-ordinates with an inclinometer (or spirit level as you might call it) to measure the pelvic rotation. Taking these simple measurements, customers can be matched with a wide range of Selle Italia saddles, be they male or female.
Cedric Chicken feels that given recent progress both for the business and for cycling on the whole, the year ahead should looks promising.
“The UK is a target market, such is the growth of interest in cycling both as a sport and as a pastime. Foreign manufacturers can see the growth of bicycle usage, the amount of Government spending on cycling and the improvement of our race calendar. These all provide great interest to brands as they look at fresh opportunities abroad. Our company is fortunate to have chosen, long ago, a portfolio of European niche manufacturers. These brands have encouraged others to use our services.
“We celebrate our 100th anniversary in just six years time. Both Selle Italia and SKS are older. Campagnolo recently celebrated its 80th year in business and brands like Cinelli, Miche, Vittoria, Pletscher, Rigida and Sapim are all beyond their 50th year trading. The new association with Deda and Deda Elementi takes Chicken deeper into the top-end of pro cycle racing. The pedigree of the brand speaks volumes for a highly successful past and one that Chicken are keen to expand.”