Canberra-based company Pushys has purchased another leading online cycling retailer, BikeBug, to accelerate its move into the premium market.
Pushys co-owner Shane Wolki confirmed the sale – completed on 1st February for an undisclosed amount – included BikeBug and wholesale company FRF Sports, two companies owned by road cycling identity Frank Fortuna.
He said the BikeBug and FRF Sports brands and operations would be retained and continue to operate largely unchanged. However, BikeBug would be expanded beyond its current road focus to incorporate premium off-road bikes.
“We had been moving into more premium mountain bikes but this accelerates that move,” Shane explained.
“We are in the middle of a growth phase at the moment and this seemed like a good addition.”
“Pushys and BikeBug are very different businesses. Our customer base and theirs are very different. There’s not a lot of cross-over.”
“BikeBug will continue to target the pure, elite cyclists. It will still be premium road bikes but now also premium mountain bikes. We are aggressively going into the mid- to high-end mountain bikes, something BikeBug has not done at all in the past.”
It gave Pushys an established route into the premium market through a “very, very successful and profitable businesses”, while enabling the Pushys brand to remain welcoming to everyone.
“We have always tried to be everything to everyone, so generalising as much as we can,” he said.
“We do baby seats, kiddies bikes and pre-rides. We’ve really focused on families and it’s extremely successful.
“But some people don’t want to go shopping for a $20,000 Colnago bike with kids running around testing little bikes. It’s the same sort of thing online.”
BikeBug, which promotes itself as the “ultimate clicks and bricks bike shop”, includes five stores in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
Its brands include Colnago, Cannondale, Argon, Mongoose, Electra, Cruzee kids bikes and Envy scooters.
Similarly, FRF Sports brands include Colnago, Argon 18, Campagnolo, Fulcrum and Selle Italia.
Pushys has an expansive warehouse store in Fyshwick in the ACT, complemented by Giant-branded stores in the Adelaide CBD and the Sydney suburb of Thornleigh.
Pushys took on a private equity investor, CPE Capital, in mid-2021, to help fund the BikeBug and FRF Sports purchase, as well as an expansion into NZ and the introduction of a new outdoor and adventure brand.
Shane said BikeBug and FRF Sports would continue to “do what they’ve been doing, with the same teams that have been doing it for years, just with more support from our head office”.
“There will be a little more support in the back end and there’ll be some savings. We’ll have one CEO overseeing the whole operation and the head office will all be in the one location,” he added.
A Brief History of FRF
Frank Fortuna and his brother Rocky initially operated a transport company, FRF Couriers, launched in 1989 as a two-car operation and now comprising a fleet of around 250 trucks and vans.
Their passion and participation in cycling prompted FRF Couriers to sponsor the NSW Institute of Sport cycling team from 2003 and, in 2005, the brothers started FRF Sports.
As part of that new venture, the Fortunas acquired a cycle store, Bike Barn, which they later renamed BikeBug.
When Australian bike stores faced the challenge of burgeoning UK online retailers, the brothers were impressed by those online businesses and decided the best way to combat that threat was to expand BikeBug into online sales in 2013.
Pushys NZ Expansion
Coincidentally, Pushys co-owners Shane Wolki, Glen Navratil and Peter van Oeveren also began in business in 1989, as joint owners of Canberra record store The Music Shop. Fourteen years later, they branched out into online sales through themusicshop.com.au.
They sold the CD and DVD stores about 12 years ago and maintained the online side of the business for a while longer.
“While Pushys has been going for 12 years, we’ve been doing online sales for 18 years,” Shane said.
Well established as Australia’s largest online cycling retailer, Pushys is now expanding into NZ.
It has opened an office in Christchurch and is preparing to launch pushys.co.nz during the next couple of months.
It will have warehousing and shipping in NZ and has teamed up with Solon Payne, the owner of wholesale business Day Zero Limited, to run the NZ operations.
“The biggest brand we have for off-road is YT and Solon has run YT NZ for the past five or six years,” Shane explained.
“He didn’t have the backing to keep doing it himself, so he’s teamed up with us, starting mainly with YT. But he’s got a lot of brands and we are going to run all the Pushys brands through our warehouse in NZ.”
New Outdoor Brand
At the same time, the Pushys partners are preparing to launch a stand-alone outdoor and adventure brand.
“We have done a lot more camping and outdoor stuff on the Pushys site over the past six to 12 months,” he said.
“That will go into a stand-alone business, with its own website, in the next few months.”