What types and brands of bicycle have seen particular growth in store ?
We have enjoyed excellent growth with Specialized Bikes and accessories in this last 12 months. However, by actually stocking so many brands (see www.rutlandcycling.com) we have seen growth across most of our departments, so all brands and categories have done well. Our average sales transactions rose last year again and our roadbike sales were up by over 300 per cent.
Do you believe that this is a local or a national trend?
2007 was a very good year for us and we broke all previous shop records from April onwards. Despite awful wet weather in early summer we continued to be busy instore and expanded our online business too.
I hear from our reps that some shops enjoyed excellent trading, whilst others struggled. I would say that we all worked very hard for our success last year, so the records were very satisfying.
What portion of your profit comes from the workshop?
Our workshop teams at our three branches are the focal point of the business. They also keep our hire fleet (700 bikes) fully maintained, while being permanently booked up with servicing and repairs.
Currently our workshop contributes around 20 per cent of our company profit and is growing as a department by around 15 per cent per annum. Our technicians are all Cytech trained and we have customers who travel miles to visit their technician.
What additional sales tools do you offer?
We have wonderful locations for our shops and are fortunate to have customers heading to us for their days out. However, in the quieter periods we work very hard to draw customers in with demo weekends and also regularly mail shot our customers with in-store and online 'specials'.
We have promoted Cyclescheme in our local area and that is beginning to reap some reward. Once word gets around in a company we tend to see several customers all visiting in quick succession.
In February, we completely refitted our shop at Whitwell to give it a more professional image and this has been viewed very positively by all our customers, new and old.
In the coming year are you anticipating easier or harder market conditions and why?
Clearly the economy is more fragile this year, as is consumer confidence. However, we believe we will benefit from customers looking for inexpensive days out with our bike hire and so far our shops have continued to trade ahead of last year in all departments.
Our staff are very motivated and we firmly believe that our high standards of customer service will help protect us from economic woes. We also have fantastic shops with so much choice for customers, that we keep attracting visitors as a destination in our own right.