Three to One … Transformation for Unley Bike Store Scene

Adelaide, SA

A previous abundance of bicycle retailers in the inner Adelaide suburb of Unley has been cut to just one store in recent weeks.

Long-standing store East End Cycles, previously known as Standish Cycles Unley, finished winding down its operations last month.

It comes a few months after Reid Cycles closed its Adelaide outlet as part of a major consolidation of its stores throughout Australia.

In addition, the suburb’s remaining store, My Ride Unley, has undergone an ownership adjustment. Co-owner Karen Alexander has retired and sold her half of the business to partner Andy Murnane who, in turn, has closed his My Ride Woodville store and consolidated his operations into the Unley location.

East End Cycles owner Stephen Kancsal has been wrapping up the business for several weeks, after stopping sales at the Unley Road site in July, and has been continuing with bike servicing and repairs while he waited for his lease on the building to expire.

He issued a statement on the store’s Facebook page on 15th August announcing it had formally closed and attributing its fate to the impacts of Covid restrictions, the stock shortages that followed and increased competition from the arrival of major chain stores.

“Last year was horrific, with the elections, the effects of Covid,” he told The Latz Report.

“Heading into last Christmas, if we didn’t have a good December and January, I knew by 1st February I’d be closing the store down.”

End of Standish Era

The store had been part of an iconic Adelaide bike store chain, Standish Cycles. In fact, Standish Cycles began with its Unley store in 1952.

Founder Bert Standish had been a key figure in the SA racing scene since the 1920s and additional stores were added when his sons Roger and Graham showed the same passion for bikes.

The Standish Cycles chain went into liquidation in 2018, closing its stores in the inner Adelaide suburbs of Klemzig and Mile End, as well as Morphett Vale in the city’s south.

While the Unley store was rebranded as East End Cycles soon after, its closure removes another vestige of the once prominent Standish brand, which had been omnipresent in the South Australian cycling and triathlon scenes.

Stephen, a former sales manager with Pacific Brands, brought the store from the Standish family 11 years ago and says he enjoyed many good years with the business until the remnant effects of the pandemic last year.

Stephen is now working with another cornerstone of the Adelaide bicycle retail sector, Super Elliots, which has been trading in the city’s CBD for over a century.

Reid Cycles closed its Adelaide store in March and, the following month, announced it would shut three more in a restructure of its retail network “in response to market conditions” and to “right-size the business for sustained profitability within Australia”.

It progressively closed two stores in Melbourne and one in Sydney, to focus its efforts on its better-performing locations in Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne, as well as online sales.

My Ride Consolidation

My Ride store owner Andy Murnane has implemented his own consolidation recently.

A 30-year veteran of the industry, he last year sold his 50% share of My Ride Semaphone, on the Adelaide northern coastline, to his business partner – and Karen’s husband – Steve Alexander.

Then when Karen made decision to retire, Andy saw it as an opportunity to consolidate his activities into a single site.

He says he’s now just focused on growing the Unley operations.

“We’re looking to grow our road and mountain bike markets. We have some really good trails close by at Mitcham and Belair,” he said.

“I think we’re in for a good summer. We’ve been pretty flat for the past two seasons.

“The upper market has continued to sell well and kids’ bikes are still selling, particularly the upper-market kids’ bikes. That mid-range market, anything from $500 to $1,500, is pretty flat.

“Our workshop is going exceptionally well. People are spending a lot more on their repairs than they used to. We’re seeing a significant jump in dollar per repair.

“Back in the day, when you had a $500 bike, you might spend $100 on it. Now people are riding $2,000 to $3,000 bikes and that’s equating to a $500 or $600 repair.

“It’s not unusual for us to do $1,000 for a repair, for mountain and road.”

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