Richard Hemington, general manager of Specialized’s wholly-owned UK subsidiary, has long held Halfords at arm’s length, rebuffing all of the company’s many overtures over the years.
Now that Halfords is using strong-arm tactics to win the right to stock Specialized, Hemington – currently on a family holiday in Florida – stresses there’s been no movement on his part:
"Specialized has no business relationship with Halfords for any purpose either in this country or elsewhere."
He doesn’t think the latest tactic will win Halfords any friends in the trade and nor will it impress consumers.
"Selling bicycles in boxes, whichever brand is involved, can only question [Halfords’] professionalism in the bicycle business," said Hemington.
He said it was "disappointing" Halfords had chosen to stock Specialized bikes against Specialized’s wishes.
The few bikes in stock at Halfords.com were bought from a "source of which is to be determined."
This is likely to be an existing bike shop stockist of Specialized bikes, or perhaps a number of stockists. In theory, they, or it, could be blameless because Halfords employees, posing as genuine customers, could have bought the bikes at full retail.
Hemington said he’s not at war with Halfords, but doesn’t want Specialized bikes to be sold outside of the specialist retail channel:
"Specialized has a global policy of supplying the IBD. We are the smallest brand of the ‘big three’ and are satisfied with our brand performance with our current dealer network in the UK.
"Our goal is to provide the consumers with the most innovative products available and to provide value for money whether that be for a £300 Hardrock or £3000 S Works. Our competition is other brands, not other retailers."