An email from Cyclescheme to a bike shop customer reveals that the firm which built its business via 1800 independent bicycle dealers will now only send promotions via Tredz, Chain Reaction Cycles and Evans.
"We have only recently started to collaborate with brands and retailers on promotional offers and currently we are restricting who is able to take part in these," wrote Cyclesheme's retail manger Becky Ingram to a bike shop owner.
"Our focus at the moment is solely nationwide retailers or retailers/brands with a large online presence. The reason for this is that we need to be able to have a fantastic offer with large discounts which tend to stem from brands who perhaps have excess stock, a large volume of bikes available, and more margin to play with."
She added: "If in time we have the scope and resource to look at regional offers I will be back in touch."
Regional offers? That would be bike shops around the country, then.
"Cyclescheme has built its business via partnerships with IBDs," wrote BikeBiz in 2010. "Pretty much every independent in the UK ... is on its books."
In 2012, we reported that over 1800 IBDs had accounts with Cyclescheme. The business sprang from an independent bike shop, and was created to simplify the government's Cycle to Work tax incentive scheme. This initiative had been introduced in the Finance Act 1999 to promote healthier journeys to work and to reduce environmental pollution. It allowed employers to loan cycles to employees as a tax-free benefit, but the paperwork could be onerous
Cyclescheme was incorporated on Valentine’s Day 2005, founded by Gary Cooper and Richard Grigsby, owners of Avon Valley Cyclery of Bath. They created Cyclescheme because of the lacklustre performance of the first Cycle to Work scheme third-party facilitator: Booost.
Five years later the pair sold Cyclescheme to the Grass Roots Group, a business services company headquartered in Tring, Hertfordshire.
Cyclescheme boasts on its website of having sold reduced-price bikes to 712,598 consumers. Most of these sales would have been through independent bike shops, but if the latest email about promotional offers is anything to go by Cyclescheme seems to be moving away from its beginnings as a supplier to the nation's bike shops.