UK car and cycle accessories chain Halfords plans to open 50 new bike-only stores.
The company says sales of bicycles are soaring as high fuel prices and the economic downturn force commuters to consider alternatives to driving.
It has opened eight pilot bike-only stores under the names BikeHut and Cycle Republic. If they prove successful, it hopes to open dozens more across the country.
In a statement released following the publication of its interim results this week, Halfords said: “Building upon our position as the UK’s largest cycle retailer, the concept is targeted to increase our share of the premium cycle market. Our most recent southern-based trial stores under this latest format [BikeHut] are performing satisfactorily.
“Prior to any scale rollout we will test this revised format nationally and, as part of this extended trial, stores were opened during October in Norwich and York, trading under an alternative brand, Cycle Republic, which has researched positively with customers. We believe there is the potential for at least 50 stand-alone cycle stores across the country.”
By targeting the “premium cycle market”, Halfords will be competing with the likes of Evans and Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op. It has already taken a move in this direction with its exclusive range of Boardman cycles. It also hopes to increase its market share in the children’s cycles sector, where its own-brand Apollo range has been selling well.
Research by the firm suggests 42 percent of commuters would consider using a bicycle if they lived close enough to their workplace. The number of commuters cycling to work is said to have increased by 3.3 million since the start of the credit crunch.