- East Anglia-based Paul’s Cycles initially experienced 30% YOY revenue growth in Q1 2023, while major industry players were calling in the administrators
- Despite bike sales across the UK falling to their lowest level in decades, the retailer now reports a year-to-date revenue increase of 34.5% against 2022 (01/01-03/10)
2023 has not been a year for celebration for the UK’s cycling industry, with distributors and retailers alike sharing news of redundancies and closures, and numerous small and independent bike stores being absorbed by the remaining behemoth brands. Factors like extreme inflation, dampened consumer demand and exchange rate fluctuations have all been named as contributing factors.
But for consumer-facing retailers, there are some glimmers of light in an otherwise dark and gloomy tunnel. Trading since 1983, indie brand Paul’s Cycles has had a particularly good year, this year – with maintenance services, a renewed focus on selling discounted premium brands and a drive toward social and organic digital marketing looking to be part of the reason why.
“Amid the headwinds facing the UK cycling industry, we’re humbled to be able to report a success story in what is proving to be a very challenging year for many businesses.” Paul’s Cycles Managing Director, Tom Thornley, says. “We’ve worked hard to personalise our customer interactions and advice, and to build up trust and affinity in these and our aftercare services – which are as important in this industry as the sales themselves.”
Social media has proven to be a useful revenue driver for the brand in 2023, with around a 18% YOY revenue increase from this channel for the year to date, alongside a 21% growth from organic search engine marketing. Paul’s Cycles also boasts a dedicated, growing bricks-and-mortar customer base, courtesy of its recently-modernised flagship store and repair workshop in Norfolk.
“While historically we’ve had support from loyal, local customers, we’re finding that the majority of growth in-store is coming from first-time customers now.” Thornley goes on to say, noting that Paul’s Cycles has adapted price points and product ranges to evolve with the changing market conditions. “We have customers now that travel from as far away as Wales to visit our showroom, so there has very much been an impact seen from increasing the appeal and value of our showrooms as well as from investing in online marketing.”
With e-commerce currently representing around a 38% share of overall retail in the UK, the importance of effective online marketing strategies remains unquestionable. But with the ongoing economic crisis causing shoppers to think twice before making any purchase – and cycling uptake now returning to pre-pandemic levels – retailers can’t be complacent about the importance of highlighting good value and lasting quality when setting out their table against competitors. There are also a few key predictions being made for shopper behaviour in 2024.
“Over the next 12 months, we expect to see electric mountain bikes continuing to grow in popularity, as well as gravel bikes.” Thornley notes. “E-bikes are getting lighter and more versatile, while shoppers are seeing the versatility that gravel bikes can offer as a real plus point.”
“Despite what is clearly a challenging climate for all, Paul’s plans to continue growing the brand through the simple foundations of value for money and authentic service and advice. We’ll also be focusing on improving our internal infrastructure, in order to create a framework that allows us to continue scaling the business for years to come.”