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JD Sports and Sports Direct bid to take over Evans Cycles

Joe Robinson
4 Oct 2018

More parties express their interest in Evans Cycles takeover, after current owners seeks urgent capital injection

High street sports retailers JD Sports and Sports Direct have joined Halfords in the race to purchase struggling high street bike chain story Evans Cycles, as the current owners ECI Capital seek a buyer capable of meeting its ongoing funding requirements.

Reported by Sky News, it has been suggested that both Sports Direct and JD Sports tabled offers to purchase Evans Cycles, alongside the confirmed bid from Halfords. It is believed that a number of separate financial investors are also interested in a takeover.

Reports suggest that Evans Cycles would need an investment of around £10 million over the coming months in order to continue trading. However, a new investment could also channelled towards 'positive growth' such as new store opening and e-commerce instead of purely consolidating its loses. 

Historic brand

With its first store opening its doors on the Kennington Road, London, in 1921, Evans Cycles has often been regarded as the original high street bike store.

The retailer now currently operates 60 high street stores nationwide as well as its online trading. The brand, based in Crawley, also functions as the UK distributor for BMC bikes and owns prominent in-house brands such as FWE and Pinnacle. 

Amid the much-publicised 'death' of the UK high street, Evans Cycles has struggled to compete with online-only rivals such as Wiggle, but also faces stiff competition from brick-and-mortar giant Halfords, which owns the higher end cycling-specific subsidiary Cycle Republic.

Halfords currently run Cycle Republic (a direct rival of Evans Cycles), alongside online e-commerce sites Tredz and Wheelies. With that in mind it would be likely to benefit most from purchasing Evans Cycles, given an obvious connection to its current businesses. 

However, Sky News points out that JD Sports interest suits the expansion of the brand, considering its current ownership of Go Outdoors, a store geared to adventure sports which has attempted to break into the cycling market in the past with mixed success.

The least likely candidate would be Sports Direct, owned by divisive figure Mike Ashley. The bargain sports stores currently have little connection to the existing world of high-end cycling, however with the recent purchase of House of Fraser it's clear that Ashley has no qualms about taking on new and diverse markets.

The competition amongst bidders is good news for Evans, though, given the turbulence of the last few months. With that in mind, the number of interested parties suggests the picture is not as bad as once thought, and with necessary investment Evans should have a stable future ahead.

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