Specialized Concept Stores Set to Revolutionise Local Bike Industry

Words & Photos: Zoon Cronje, ZCMC Media


Specialized bicycles are arguably one of the leading international cycling brands that came to our shores as a subsidiary. However, a change in its business model is not the only positive change in store for South African consumers.



In the past, there has been a massive divide in sport retail and retail in general, and this is exactly where this global leader saw the niche they are now targeting. Peet le Roux, the retail services manager for Specialized South Africa, says, "The new model closely resembles that of the premium motor vehicle industry in both the retail and service experience we will offer consumers." In broad strokes, this means that Specialized – through its concept stores – intends to revolutionise the local bike industry so that it mirrors that of the motor industry.


The first store launched as a fully-fledged concept store was Melrose Arch Cyclery in November 2010. Since then, Specialized has invested directly in South Africa and talks to open multiple concept stores were initiated in July 2012. The late Olympic and national hero Burry Stander was the first to launch his Concept Cyclery Ballito in December last year.


The media widely reported on Burry's investment in KwaZulu-Natal business, with headlines like, ‘Avid mountain bikers in South Africa would have seen Burry Stander (Specialized) racing against the world’s best riders and beating them’ and ‘Mountain bikers in KwaZulu-Natal now have the opportunity to learn some of Stander’s secrets’. Stander was quoted as saying, “Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing sports in South Africa, therefore I think the riders deserve the best. My main goal with the Concept Cyclery shop is to ensure that riders really get good advice and service. I've always had my eye on Ballito as a location for a bike store and when Bobby Behan, who heads up business in South Africa, pitched the idea of a concept store to me, it just made sense." Stander opened the store with his brother Duane, who continues to manage the store, realising the dream they shared.


Commented Bobby, "The concept stores position us very well for the future. We are extremely excited about this initiative and Duane Stander shares our passion, which will make for a very successful future.”


In February of this year, Specialized also launched its first Western Cape-based concept store. Situated at Somerset Mall (Somerset West), Helderberg Cycle World joins Concept Cyclery Burry Stander (Ballito, KZN), Concept Cyclery Melrose Arch (Melrose Arch, Gauteng) and Lynnwood Cyclery (Pretoria) on the list of current Specialized concept stores in South Africa.



“We are really passionate about the brand, with the business serving a large geographical area ranging from Paarl, Wellington and Cape Town, all the way to the Overberg and as far as the Garden Route,” says Petie Viljoen, Specialized dealer and owner of Helderberg Cycle World.


“Our target market is any cyclist, male or female, beginner or advanced, who understands that cycling is a technical sport where expert advice should be obtained before making a purchase. The product range is vast and covers all price points, from entry level to advanced. The size of the store has remained the same at 360 m² and we‘ve improved the layout to make it more spacious and create a better retail environment. Our focus is not necessarily to be the biggest, but rather the best. We pride ourselves on our quality and expert advice,” added Viljoen.


According to Bobby Behan, over the past ten years Helderberg Cycle World has not only established itself as a reputable bicycle shop, but also as a premium Specialized dealer. "Sport enthusiasts in the Western Cape are spoilt for choice as they have immediate access to prime locations such as Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Schapenberg, Lebanon Forest and many others. The Western Cape is also home to world-famous mountain bike, road bike and multi-sport events, such as the Absa Cape Epic, Cape Argus Cycle Tour, Wines2Whales, Totalsports Challenge and the Totalsports XTERRA Grabouw,” he said.


Pretoria will also be able to boast a concept store. This exciting project will potentially change the way the cycling community and enthusiasts in Pretoria see the world of cycling. The father and son combination of Andre and Andy Terlouw saw the need for a focused retail outlet that aspires towards excellence in customer service.


Given their past experience in the motor retail sector and having previously been an owner of a cycle store called Auto Xtra Cycles, Terlouw saw an opportunity when an existing cycle store was about to close its doors. Terlouw and his father decided to buy the existing assets and pursue their goal of owning a bicycle store again, but this time with a difference.


Terlouw emphasises that they will focus on service excellence, in both the workshop and sales department. According to Terlouw, this is the store’s x-factor; personal and friendly service. The recipe for success includes a state-of-the-art workshop, a dynamic team of staff, an ideal location and facility, together with the close association with the world's leading bike brand Specialized.


The addition of the Pretoria store will bolster Gauteng’s reputation as a cycling community that has grown over the past few years by hosting a massive amount of cycling events, like the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge, and a number of top-class off-road events in the area.


Says Bobby Behan, “We are thrilled to welcome Lynwood Cyclery to our ranks as the first concept store in the Pretoria area. Whether training for an event or just wanting to enjoy the outdoors, sport enthusiasts can rely on Lynwood Cyclery’s expert service and advice. We look forward to building new relationships with this ever-growing cycling community.”


Peet le Roux indicated that they intend to open more concept stores, but that it will be dictated by the market and demand for the brand. "We currently have close to 30 dealers across South Africa and our retail service team will help and support them to create the best retail environment possible, be it a concept store or an elite shop (shop in shop area). We have incredible support from the US and Europe, and we have heavily vested in our dealers to help them evolve within the retail and service environment. We’ve managed to roll out three concept stores over a period of six months and are busy planning more store upgrades in 2013.


It is clear that this world leader is sure to change not only the showroom retail experience but also make a difference in the general operations of the industry.