Punctured biking market prompts Evans Cycles owner to pump up investment

Francesca Washtell
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The number of UK adults who took up cycling last year did not compete with 2014 levels (Source: Getty)

Punctured sales in the UK's "difficult" bike market have prompted Evans Cycles' majority shareholder to pump more cash into the chain.

ECI Partners, which bought Evans in a deal last year for an undisclosed sum, has "invested additional funds" into April Topco, the company through which it owns Evans, to cut bank debts and provide additional liquidity.

April Topco said Evans had struggled last year in a "softer cycling market" than had been anticipated since February last year, which led to a drop in sales and lower gross margins.

Read more: Calling City cyclists: We need you to fund a bike bridge to Canary Wharf

In July, the group refinanced its term loans with banks, reducing them from £29m to £23.8m. No debt repayments are now due on any of the loans until the end of April 2021.

In 2015, Evans' pre-tax profit slumped around 70 per cent to £1.37m in the year to October, according to accounts filed at Companies House. The Crawley-based bike chain has 63 stores in the UK.

"The soft cycling market was due to a number of factors including poor weather conditions during the summer and strong 2014 comparables for the number of adult new entrants to cycling which did not repeat in 2015," April Topco said.

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"The directors remain very confident about the medium and long term prospects for the UK cycling market noting that UK adult cycling participation is still significantly below European averages, especially in cities."

Sales surged and interest in mass participation cycling events boomed as a result of the 2012 Olympics (dubbed by some the “Wiggo effect” after cycling superstar Bradley Wiggins), but sales for retailers this year have fallen flatter.

Last month Evans' rival Halfords, which estimates it has a 24 per cent market share, posted a four per cent revenue reduction in its first quarter.

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