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Brompton boss blames rise of MAMILs for road animosity

Joe Robinson
27 Feb 2019

Butler-Adams also reveals company owed £124,000 from collapse of Evans Cycles

The CEO of Brompton has argued that increased animosity between cyclists and motorists on Britain's roads has been fuelled by the rise of cyclists riding their bikes recreationally rather than as purely as a mode of transport.

In an interview with The Telegraph published last Sunday, Will Butler-Adams stated that 'cycling as a mode of transport pretty much died' and that the rise of so-called MAMILs (middle-aged men in Lycra) has helped fuel the differences between those on two wheels and those on four.

'The people who brought cycling back to life were the people at the weekend training for their triathlon,' Butler-Adams told The Telegraph. 'They whizz along at 100mph like some hardcore guy, get to work and change out of that funny stuff.'

It's a controversial statement from the man in charge of Britain's biggest bicycle manufacturer, which produces around 50,000 bikes per year. In 2018, the company revealed profits of £3.1m with global overall sales of £36.1m, an 11 per cent increase.

And while Butler-Adams is entitled to his opinion, it's hard to square his views with statistical evidence on the subject. A Department for Transport statistics [PDF] report released in 2017 suggest that the split between those cycling for transport and those for leisure is near-equal, with 37% of cycling journeys categorised as for business/commuting purposes and 36% for leisure.

In the same interview, Butler-Adams also revealed that Brompton had suffered from the recent collapse of Evans Cycles, though not to the same extent as some fellow cycling brands. 

He confirmed that his company was owed £124,000 from high street retailer Evans going into administration, although that's just a fraction of the £3.9m owed to American brand Specialized. Evans Cycles currently accounts for almost a third of Brompton's sales in the UK.

Evans found itself plunged into administration towards the end of 2018, requiring a £10m cash injection and new ownership to keep the company afloat.

Eventually, Mike Ashley, businessman behind Sports Direct and House of Fraser, bought the struggling company in a pre-administration package. 

Ashley's business techniques often divide public opinion but Butler-Adams revealed that after meeting Ashley's representatives he was actually optimistic about their future plans for the company.

'They are far more positive and ambitious and genuinely interested in investing in that business. It’s actually gone pretty well for us, we’re quite excited about it.'

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