Cycling champion Sir Chris Hoy has been tipped to outstrip his fellow Olympic stars in earnings, with his net worth expected to rocket as high as £15 million over coming years.
The six-time Olympic gold medallist will launch his own self-titled brand of bicycles for the first time in May.
Entrepreneurs in Edinburgh have claimed the move will transform Scotland’s most successful Olympian into a multi-millionaire, with customers expected to flock to Hoy’s products on the back of his “everyman” appeal.
Businessman and fitness guru John Laurie said the timing was ideal for the cyclist to profit from his status as a national hero.
He said agencies like Scottish Enterprise were looking at new ways to push unconditioned people into cycling, claiming: “Hoy’s the right personality at the right time in the market when people are looking to get more active. I think the best thing about him is his personality. He seems approachable.
“With about 70 per cent of the UK market being classed as under-conditioned or obese, that’s the real business market.”
Mr Laurie, 34, started his own health group, Burn It Fitness, in June 2010 with business partner Paul Duffy. His company has since expanded to employ 44 trainers, with 60 training sessions a week across Scotland, including a base in Edinburgh, Bathgate, Livingston and Linlithgow.
He described estimates of Hoy’s net worth at £2m as “very conservative”, adding: “If he goes into the apparel market, the supplements market, it’s got a huge scope. The sky’s the limit really.
“If he piggy backs on Scottish Enterprise and Greenspace Scotland initiatives to get people more active, then his brand would do really well. You’re looking more like £10m to £15m.”
The Hoy series will feature three road bikes and four city bikes, with prices starting from £550. The bikes will be sold in Evans dealerships across the UK.
The 36-year-old has already signed a £200,000-a-year sponsorship deal with razor company Gillette and sold close to 7000 books since the Olympics.
Edinburgh City Council is also considering installing special “Hoy Lanes” for cyclists around the Capital, or even re-naming the cycle lanes on Princes Street after him.
Fellow Edinburgh entrepreneur and avid cyclist Angela Paterson agreed it was the right time for Hoy to profit from his celebrity status.
She said: “There’s not really been a big push on any particular brand in the mid-market that I know of for bikes.
“My one concern is how good is the brand of Chris Hoy outside of Scotland.”
Former Tour de France rider Chris Boardman’s own brand of bikes is sold in more than 80 countries and is understood to have earned hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Ian Maxwell, spokesman for cycle campaign group Spokes, said: “I know that The Bike Station, for example, had massive sales last autumn just because of people wanting to get onto a bike. It certainly has contributed to have such a famous Edinburgh cyclist hitting the headlines recently.”
Boardman sets pace
OLYMPIC track cycling gold medallist Chris Boardman paved the way for Sir Chris by launching a self-branded bicycle range.
Boardman, 44, won the individual pursuit at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and three stages of the Tour de France.
“The Professor” launched his own bike design business in 2004. Within six years, Halfords was selling 30,000 annually at an average of £635 each.
Boardman’s bikes have been ridden by world triathlon champions Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee.
Nicole Cooke won gold in the Beijing Olympics road race on a Boardman.