Online sales and out of town retail park spell the end for family-run Rugby cycle shop

A well-loved Rugby cycle shop that was built from scratch 50 years ago will close this April owing to a lack of custom.

Thursday, 24th January 2019, 8:36 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:45 pm
Left to right: David Thornton with staff Phil and Max.

Sid Thornton began repairing and selling second-hand bicycles in Rugby, before setting-up Thornton’s Cycle Centre on Cambridge Street in 1969.

Mr Thornton’s son David began working at the shop in 1988 before buying it from his father in 1997.

Sid Thornton, pictured, started the business from scratch.

But a lack of custom, which Mr Thornton believes has been brought about by the rise of the internet and the opening of a Halfords on Elliott’s Field, is forcing the shop to close.

Mr Thornton said: “Sad is the best word for it. I’m having to make three long-term staff redundant.

“In the past we were a lot busier, and there were about three big cycle shops in the town.

“People didn’t go out of town to buy their bikes, but things changed around a decade ago as the internet took off and about three or four years ago we saw a drastic difference in footfall.

“I’d like to thank all our customers from the last half century.”

Mr Thornton added that the opening of the Halfords on the edge of town had a ‘drastic’ impact, marking the beginning of the end for Thornton’s.

He said: “With local, independent businesses you get service, but that’s become less important and now price is king.”

Mr Thornton said many of his customers used to buy budget bikes, while contemporary customers are fewer in number and favour more expensive bikes and equipment.

He said he feels that more casual cyclists have been put-off by how busy the roads are.

“This is something the cycling industry doesn’t seem to be addressing,” he said.

The shop is holding a clearance sale, with sales and bicycle repairs carrying on as normal until its closure on April 6.