A BIKE shop which has operated in the Capital for four decades has just been named Britain’s best.
Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative rose to the top of the pack after readers of a leading cycling publication voted in their thousands for their favourite venues.
The Cycling Weekly poll, which launched in June, resulted in more than 21,000 people having their say before the Bruntsfield outlet clinched the number one position.
Opened in 1979 with a view to sharing profits equally among the firm’s employees, the co-operative model proved so successful it led to a number of branches across the country as well as the Capital’s Rodney Street.
And there was also success for these outlets in the poll, with the co-operative’s Aberdeen outlet voted best in north-east Scotland.
Meanwhile, Cycling Weekly readers voted their Newcastle branch as the best in north-east England and their Leeds outlet best in Yorkshire.
Co-operative founder member Ged Holmyard said the team was “overjoyed” their store had been named the overall winner.
He said: “We were especially amazed to learn that more than 21,000 people from all over the UK cast their vote in Cycling Weekly’s annual poll, yet our shop on Whitehouse Loan was the clear winner.
“We would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to every customer who took the trouble to vote for us.
“It means so much to us that you chose to support a comparatively small chain of employee-owned bicycle shops.
“You have made us feel, simultaneously, humbled and very proud – thank you.”
Mr Holmyard said the accolade also showed that the workers’ co-operative model not only provided fair working conditions but was also a “great hit” with customers.
He added: “We will do all we can to continue to live up to the amazing honour of being voted Best Bike Shop in Britain.”
Since it first began trading 40 years ago, the co-operative now employs more than 100 people, with each staff member invited to become a full-time member – and therefore own a share in the business – after one year’s service. And as well as selling cycling goods, the Edinburgh shop also runs bike maintenance workshops and wheel-building classes.
In an interview with the publication, deputy managing director Alan Nestor said it was vital staff had an in-depth knowledge of the products. He said: “Over 95 per cent of the stuff we sell is technical, so there needs to be that level of engagement and advice.
“This is what we’ve always being trying to focus on, trying to remove that stigma of snooty or intimidating bike shops, engaging with the customers to see what they want, what they need, what they are doing and advising accordingly.”
Mr Nestor added that while business in Edinburgh was going well, the market still poses fierce competition and that, as a result, the co-op had to close both its Manchester and Sheffield outlets last year.
He said: “They were good stores with really good people and it was tragic we just couldn’t get over that line and make the financials stack up and deliver for us.”