Canberra based Peter Keast is about to leave the bike industry on a high after a bicycle retail and wholesale career spanning 42 years. For many of these he founded and grew the Onya Bike retail chain in the ACT but after selling this, he more recently set up Brompton Bicycles Australia.
Peter’s first Onya Bike shop was at Tuggeranong, then he added Belconnen, then a third at Fyshwick.
“When I started in the late 1970’s no one was trading seven days,” Peter recalled. “I was the first to start this, which caused a stir in the market with the other shops. I had a long association with Giant Bicycles who were very supportive and helped me to become more professional. As we added stores, our economies of scale improved and we could advertise heavily.
“I eventually sold Tuggeranong and Belconnen to store management and went into partnership with Shane Wolki and Peter Van Oeveren on the Fyshwick store which we re-branded as Pushys. I later sold my share to Shane and Peter and retired for a couple of years before starting Brompton Australia.”
Brompton is known for essentially having made the same small, folding bicycle for decades.
As you might expect, there have been many refinements over the years.
But the company, that still makes all of its bikes in London, UK is actually larger than many people may imagine, as revealed by its latest financial statements that were recently published.
Global Brompton sales for the 12 months to March 2019 were just under 49,000 bicycles for 42.47 million pounds (A$79.8 million) meaning the average ex-factory price is about A$1,600.
Net profit before tax was 3.99 million pounds (A$7.5 million).
Exports represent 73% of Brompton’s sales.
Of this, Australia represents a small, but significant portion.
“We have sales projections for over 1,000 units in 2020,” Peter said. “The growth has been phenomenal. Our main concern is getting enough supply, particularly of certain models such as their titanium bikes.
“Brompton has always been an add on sale for dealers. It never takes away from their existing sales. For example, Cycles Galleria (in Melbourne) which is a very tightly focused Trek dealer, recently added Brompton to three of their stores and got immediate sales.
“Martin Tse will be taking over from Easter after I retire. Martin has already been working with me for a year and has worked for Brompton UK for about 12 years during which time he ran their Hong Kong office for a couple of years.
“We will finally have Brompton ebikes arriving later in 2020. It’s already sold overseas but there have been delays in getting enough production to meet demand.”
Meanwhile Peter is looking forward to his retirement and has already made plans.
“My wife Trish and I will be off to the UK for a Brompton ride in June. Then to Italy and more we have more European trips planned. We like to book Eurail passes but not book any accommodation so we can just go wherever we please.
“I’ve never been happier working in the bike industry. It’s been very good for me personally and financially. I think it’s the best industry to work in. You get that feel good factor putting someone on a new bike. I don’t know how many bikes I would have sold over the decades, but it has been a lot!”
Brompton financial data in this article was previously published in Cycle Industry News (UK)