Alpine Bikes have won the tender to run the new bike shop at Glentress in Scotland, while the owners of a nearby hotel will be in charge of catering in the new visitor centre.
The announcement by Forestry Commission Scotland seals the fate of Emma Guy and Tracey Brunger, owners of Hub in the Forest, who run the existing café and bike business at the 7stanes trail centre. They were rejected earlier in the tender process but had hoped to challenge that decision.
Contracts are expected to be completed within "a few weeks". More details of what the winning bidders have planned for the café and bike shop are likely to emerge late next month.
Edinburgh-based Alpine Bikes have nine shops across Scotland, including one down the road from Glentress in Innerleithen. Director Bryan Shedden said the company hoped to help make the new centre "a resounding success". "Following our recent acquisition of the summer lease for bike hire at Nevis Range, this appointment further secures our positioning as Scotland's premium bike retailer and hire centre provider," he said.
The cafe will be run by GT Restaurants, a new company set up by Claire and Olivier Bony, owners of the Glentress Hotel in nearby Peebles. According to the Forestry Commission: "Their local presence, coupled with the hotel being situated at the entrance to the forest, has given them valuable experience of catering for the mountain bike and visitor market for a number of years."
Mrs Bony said: "We're very much looking forward to working with Forestry Commission Scotland and the other site partners to create a five-star visitor attraction, which can only be of benefit to the many users of the forest park and to our local community.”
Bill Meadows, Forestry Commission Scotland's forest district manager for Dumfries & Scottish Borders, said: "We’ve undertaken a very thorough, open and fair tender for commercial opportunities and I’m very pleased that the process has produced two companies which have many years of experience in the mountain bike and outdoor leisure market."
He added: "Both have shown a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and innovation in their tenders, and demonstrated they are keen supporters in making Glentress a top-class visitor attraction.”
Glentress Peel is due to open in the spring. The Hub have permission to run a bike shop at the site until next month, with the lease on the café expiring a year later. Emma Guy told BikeRadar: "The success of Glentress has been built on a solid core team of passionate people including ourselves and, of course, the mountain bikers who have visited the venue. It's this core that paved the way for a £9m visitor centre to be built.
"The Forestry Commission have stated that they needed to 'secure a good financial contribution' from the successful tenderer, while we as a business needed to put in a bid that secured a sustainable business for both us and our staff." Emma said she and Tracey would be releasing a statement soon about the future of the Hub.
For more details about the Glentress Peel development, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/glentress.