A new coalition formed under the Independent Bicycle Retailers’ Association banner will this week set out a mission statement, describing itself as a “pressure group” that will confront challenges facing the industry’s front line.
A foundation of the common ground between the stores and first in the crosshairs will be the cycle to work scheme. It is perceived by those involved that unfair terms and conditions are applied on sales utilising these vouchers, with one of the group’s business owners this morning stating “they’re taking as good as 35% of my profit” as part of commissions that can now total as much as 15% on a sale. With bike margins already stretched, that’s now seen as untenable by the group.
The Independent Bicycle Retailers’ Association thus far has around ten shops behind it, including Pearsons Cycles, Cyclefit, Velorution and Bespoke, among a now growing membership.
Phil Cavell of Cyclefit spoke to CI.N this morning, telling us that it won’t just be the Cycle to Work scheme on its hitlist, but that for the time being this is “the most irritating issue for shops on a big list of complaints.”
“We want to be constructive and we’ve worked very hard to have constructive conversations, but there’s lots of people invested and often more so than we thought. Maintaining things as they are seems to be their plan and we’ve been met with silence wherever possible,” said Cavell.
“So we’re starting a pressure group. It was originally single issue, but we’ll move more generally to become a trade body.”
An Independent Bicycle Retailers Association position statement is soon to be released, which CI.N will place here once we have it. In the meantime, in order to build support, the Association has a Twitter account to which it is inviting other shops to follow.
Disquiet with the way the cycle to work scheme, and in particular its bigger players operate, has been well documented as a primary aggravation to the independent retail. In CyclingIndustry.News’ own Annual Retail Study 46% of independent stores reported doing less trade on this front year-on-year, compared to 31% who said it had increased in volume.
Over the weekend the Financial Times spoke to a handful of the shops mentioned here, as well as CycleScheme. At the base of that article the latter apparently confirmed that is may well look at a new commission structure.
Speaking to the paper, Will Pearson of Pearson Performance said of cycle to work schemes: “If we’re having to give up to 15% of that £7,000 away, it doesn’t make it a legitimate proposition for us.”
Senior product Director Adrian Warren is quoted as saying “The last thing we want to do is treat bike shops unfairly. Talks are ongoing, but we are confident we will have a new commission structure in place in the coming weeks that benefits everyone.”
More to follow…