Retailer JD Cycles is investing more than £500,000 in a new concept store in a prime location in Ilkley.
The showroom is directly on the route of next year’s Tour de France and, for a few seconds at least, could be visible to the many millions of TV viewers watching the race as it sweeps through Yorkshire.
Adam Evans, who took a majority stake in the company two years ago, said the world’s biggest cycling event will have an “absolutely phenomenal” impact on Yorkshire and is hopeful it will propel sales of bikes, clothing and accessories.
The new shop will be in the former Nidd Vale garage on the main road to Skipton, the Dales and the Lakes
He said it will have some exciting features, including a “light, bright, clean and fresh” display for road bikes in the window, while the interior mountain bike display will have a “wooden, rustic” feel.
He has hired a national company, which has previously worked with BMW, Audi and cycle superstores, to design the showroom. “It will draw people in,” said Mr Evans, who added that the new shop will be open by Christmas.
Mr Evans and fellow directors and shareholders James Myers and Jamie Shuttleworth want to take the business to “the next level”.
He said JD Cycles, which is hidden away in a backstreet, is “Ilkley’s best-kept secret” and added that its new position will lead to greater footfall.
He said the company has built up a strong and loyal customer base by providing “quality, service and value” and moving to a bigger site is “the logical progression”.
JD Cycles managed to secure the lease two days before the announcement of the route that cyclists will take during next July’s Tour. The property was not marketed.
“It’s such a fantastic location,” said Mr Evans. “If it had gone to market as being available it would have been snapped up by someone else.”
He is the personal guarantor for the property and said that his parents, who run a waste management business in Shipley, had advised him against the purchase.
But Mr Evans said he was determined to make the move and take the chance with the investment.
He bought into the business after the owners decided to take a step back. John and Ruth Hargreaves founded the company in 1990.
Mr Myers and Mr Shuttleworth, who both hold stakes in the company, encouraged Mr Evans to come on board.
He said he was tired of working in a high-stress office job, enjoyed cycling as a form of exercise and wanted to develop a future of his own. “Right time, right place,” said Mr Evans, who is 38.
He said cycling makes people healthier, calmer and more alert and productive at work.
He added that the Government’s Cycle to Work scheme, which offers tax incentives for commuters to take up cycling, is growing in popularity and now accounts for around one third of the business.
“People are becoming more aware of the benefits of cycling, not just healthwise, but financially,” he said.
But the success of the Olympics and Sir Bradley Wiggins becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France failed to translate into the anticipated sales uplift last year, he added.
Momentum is now starting to grow ahead of next year’s Yorkshire Grand Départ, with more enquiries converting to more sales, said Mr Evans.
The gradually improving economy is helping, he added. The company turns over between £1m and £1.2m.
Mr Evans said there is “terrific excitement” about the Grand Départ but he acknowledged some personal nerves about the move to new premises.
He added that most people have no comprehension about the size and scale of the Tour, which is watched annually by three billion people on TV and is set to draw millions to the region next year.
“It will shoot past our window,” said Mr Evans. He said the company staff will do everything they can to get the business noticed.
“The key thing is for Yorkshire as a whole,” he added. “It’s going to be absolutely phenomenal. We have seen an upturn in European cyclists coming to hire bikes to ride the route the Tour will take. They soon realise we are a hidden gem.”
But he said: “We need to work a lot harder with our roads and transport network to encourage more cycling and make it safer.”
He added that European drivers are generally more respectful of cyclists and give them more room than UK drivers who are impatient and often see cyclists as a nuisance.
On the other hand, cyclists should not behave like they own the road, he said.
“Then we can all enjoy the road together,” added Mr Evans.