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"It is very difficult to be positive": Brexit lost Cycloc 25% of sales, founder reveals

The London-based wall-mounted bike storage manufacturer attracted 50% of its business from the EU pre-Brexit and has been left with a £100,000 hole in revenues

The founder and designer of indoor wall-mounted bike storage manufacturer Cycloc has spoken out about the impact Brexit had on business, with sales down 25 per cent and a £100,000 hole in revenues.

Speaking to the Guardian from his east London studio, Andrew Lang said the fallout from the referendum in 2016 had been "very disappointing" and it is "very difficult to be positive" as "Kafkaesque" rules continue to lose Cycloc money.

Reviewing the company's original bike storage product in 2009, we described it as "elegant, simple, expensive bike storage that's more penthouse than outhouse" and Cycloc has since brought out numerous new products, including the Super Hero below.

cycloc super hero3.jpg

> REVIEW: Cycloc bike storage

However, Lang outlined how business has been affected by Brexit, saying it is disappointing to have lost out having "remained faithful" to manufacturing in the UK.

"It is very disappointing. I am a naturally optimistic person, but in a sense it is very difficult to be positive," he said.

"One of the things that is quite disappointing about this whole process is that from the outset, we made an active decision to manufacture in the UK. We've remained faithful to that and it feels as though the UK government hasn’t necessarily helped us.

"We have about half a dozen products in the pipeline that are in a very advanced stage but we've not been able to commit the capital to bring those to the market yet because of the other Brexit costs and problems we’ve been confronted with."

Cycloc had been enjoying success pre-referendum, with turnover of £450,000 and 10,000 units sold in the EU each year, however seven years later the picture is less positive — a 25 per cent decline in sales and a £100,000 hole in revenues.

The impact was not immediate but once rules came into effect in January 2021 business slowed and the company took a hit when Amazon stopped fulfilling orders for individual EU customers purchasing from the UK.

Head of operations Clare Lowe notes another problem with some "EU distributors stopping placing orders, citing cost of shipping and customs clearance as prohibitive".

> Brexit and the bike industry: we ask UK brands, retailers and distributors how the new rules are affecting them

Cycloc hoped opening a warehouse in the Netherlands would mean paperwork could be filled in with every truckload from Dover, rather than on each individual order, but this still racked up £10,000 in overheads.

Lowe explained that it was obvious EU sales were "not going to recover to their pre-Brexit levels" meaning the warehouse would be operating at a loss.

"To say the Brexit process was gritty is an understatement," she said. "Within 12 months of having got it up and running, we just had to take this decision to close it because it wasn't covering its costs."

Head of marketing Patron McCleary explained how the focus has now turned to being "reactive" and trying to tap into new markets in the US, Asia, Australia and South Africa.

"In places like China or Hong Kong I'm having to learn a lot about the culture, about buying habits, and how British products are viewed. It would have been easier in Europe, but because of how bad Brexit actually was, we've actually had to be quite reactive rather than being proactive," he said.

The situation forced the Netherlands warehouse's closure, meaning products are now sold direct to EU customers via an automated "import one-stop shop" in Ireland, and has left Lang questioning why the government has not done more to support British manufacturers.

Brexit - via flickr creative commons

Various small businesses within the cycling industry struggled to adapt to the changes at the end of the transition period, Dutch Bike Bits were just one of the brands to stop accepting orders from UK customers due to a change in VAT rules.

Three months later, in April 2021, the co-owner of Frog Bikes — the children's bike manufacturer based out of a factory in Pontypool — said Brexit had cost him an extra £250,000 in the first two months of the year.

"I couldn't say there was anything positive," Jerry Lawson said at the time. "There's extra paperwork, and there are extra costs. And there's a whole lot of unknown.

"The paperwork is also incredible. To begin with, some of the countries wanted the paperwork in their language. Now we send them a commercial invoice with a whole lot of customs information. Plus, it's four or five times we have to print it.

Prendas Ciclismo, perhaps best known for its reissues of some of the most iconic cycling jerseys including the Molteni kit once sported by Eddy Merckx and La Vie Claire as worn by Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond, also scaled back its operations due to the impact of Brexit on the business that summer.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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55 comments

Avatar
David9694 | 1 year ago
9 likes

We're reached the "it's not that bad" stage. Benefits have changed into "pluses" but it never was about that - "Brexit is whatever we say it is." 

Spa Cycles stopped selling to Europe. Rose stopped selling to the UK. I have recently bought from a German cycle shop, but there were additional charges. 

A vote to be poorer as a nation and as individuals, a cost of living crisis, inflation, interest rates, cash-strapped councils and national parks, pot-holes.  Lies, bigotry, spite; apathy if you didn't vote. Please don't tell me Brexiters want to save the planet with less growth.

Someone is benefitting from this mess, but it ain't the man in the street. 

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levestane | 1 year ago
0 likes

I think Brexit was about English sovereignty, whatever that is.

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chrisonabike replied to levestane | 1 year ago
2 likes

I suspect the slight majority of people voting for it* had something to do with it...

Having a vote at all seems to have been a badly-miscalculated attempt to soothe part of the Conservative party / sweep some divisions under the carpet. (But I haven't read any of the ex-premiers' books...)

* Very much depending on who you want to count as "us", geographically etc. but of course the results depended on "everyone".

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wycombewheeler replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
2 likes

Much as I disagree with brexit

The referendum policy was agreed at the party conference

The policy went into the manisfesto

The party won the election

The referendum was held.

Isn't this exactly how party politics is supposed to work? parties agree policies, put them to the electorate, and then enact them if they win?

This wasn't some fringe element of the party that needed to be placated to play nice, it was in fact most of the party, EXCEPT the more reasonable people chosen to lead the party to appeal to the middle ground of UK voters.

Anyone thinking it is only party outliers in favour of brexit is not considering the membership, and only the MPs.

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chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
0 likes

Indeed - I was indeed mistaking the MPs for the "party".  However I'm pretty sure many Conservative MPs weren't thrilled by the eventual result - so it was likely still "we'll run this for the members as we know it will fail":

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-truth-about-david-cameron-and-th...

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brooksby replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
2 likes

And yet so many other parts of manifestos get ditched as soon as they can...

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Rich_cb replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
2 likes

Exactly, Brexit probably has more of a democratic mandate than anything else that's ever been done in the UK.

An unashamedly pro Brexit manifesto even won a large majority after the vote, to go with the multiple democratic hoops it had already jumped through.

The idea that the Brexit vote was undemocratic is straight from the Trump/Bolsonaro playbook and, interestingly enough, predates their particular struggles with understanding democracy.

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Rendel Harris replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago
3 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

Exactly, Brexit probably has more of a democratic mandate than anything else that's ever been done in the UK.

Really, 52/48 is a bigger democratic mandate than the 1975 European Communities membership referendum in which the people voted to join the EEC 67/32? You know, the democratic vote that you and your fellow leavers spent 40 years trying to overturn?

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Bentrider replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago
2 likes

Brexit always brings to mind the (supposed) Churchill remark,

"The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter!"

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Rich_cb replied to Bentrider | 1 year ago
1 like

I believe Churchill also said something along the lines of “Democracy is the worst form of government, apart from all the others".

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Bigfoz replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
3 likes

Agree with all that, but it was an advisory referendum that then became immutable after the fact. "brexit" was never defined, and a lot of Pro-Brexit voters are left scratching their heads at what they got. We are now where we are though, can't unwind the dishonesty and stupidity now. Need to get on with whatever Brexit *IS*. (Or in true British style we can wait another 10 years to define it while the economy slumps further...)

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to Bigfoz | 1 year ago
3 likes
Bigfoz wrote:

Agree with all that, but it was an advisory referendum that then became immutable after the fact. "brexit" was never defined, and a lot of Pro-Brexit voters are left scratching their heads at what they got. We are now where we are though, can't unwind the dishonesty and stupidity now. Need to get on with whatever Brexit *IS*. (Or in true British style we can wait another 10 years to define it while the economy slumps further...)

This is a really important point that everyone seems to forget. If they had tried to make it a binding referendum, the referendum itself would never have been agreed in the first place. The ilk in the ERG played an absolute blinder.

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lio replied to levestane | 1 year ago
5 likes

That doesn't really explain why 38% of Scottish, 52.5% of Welsh, 44.2% of Northern Irish voters wanted to leave.

It's not as simple as just putthing the blame on the English.  All the votes counted the same everywhere in the UK.

If the 2.2 million leave voters in the other Home Nations had been convinced of the foolishness of Brexit they would have carried the vote.

It was so close that if Vote Leave hadn't broken the spending rules or written lies on the side of Johnson's bus it probably would have saved us too.

That's what's so galling about the whole thing.  You couldn't even bring a union out on a on day strike or change your cycling club's constitution with the tiny majority that Brexit had.  Yet we have to swallow bankrupting the country for it.

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hawkinspeter replied to lio | 1 year ago
1 like

lio wrote:

That doesn't really explain why 38% of Scottish, 52.5% of Welsh, 44.2% of Northern Irish voters wanted to leave.

It's not as simple as just putthing the blame on the English.  All the votes counted the same everywhere in the UK.

If the 2.2 million leave voters in the other Home Nations had been convinced of the foolishness of Brexit they would have carried the vote.

It was so close that if Vote Leave hadn't broken the spending rules or written lies on the side of Johnson's bus it probably would have saved us too.

That's what's so galling about the whole thing.  You couldn't even bring a union out on a on day strike or change your cycling club's constitution with the tiny majority that Brexit had.  Yet we have to swallow bankrupting the country for it.

You're forgetting about all the tangible benefits that Brexit has ushered in

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Backladder replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
0 likes

Exactly, what would anyone have talked about on social media if we didn't have brexit?

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David9694 replied to lio | 1 year ago
0 likes

Lincolnshire and the Thames Estuary - Brexit Central. 

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Rich_cb replied to lio | 1 year ago
2 likes

Yes the bus persuaded 500,000 people to change their minds...

Possibly the most effective bit of political advertising ever.

What was Blair's share of the vote in 1997? Or Thatcher's in 1979?

They were both considerably under 50% yet ushered in huge societal changes.

https://iamkate.com/data/minority-rule/

The idea that we need more than a majority in this
particular case is simply antidemocratic.

As an aside, even with the 'broken rules' (which amounted to no more than a paperwork error) Remain still vastly outspent Leave (19.3m Vs 13.3m).

In a fair democracy both would have been funded equally so, by your logic, the result would have been even more emphatic.

https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/who-we-are-and-what-we-do/electio...

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Simon E replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago
5 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

Yes the bus persuaded 500,000 people to change their minds... Possibly the most effective bit of political advertising ever.

The bus slogan was a very visible cherry on top of a cake that was built mostly on lies. Poisonous lies that had been propagated for years through much of the media and ones that many people were very happy to repeat ad nauseam so that in the end they seemed to become facts. Alt facts, you could call them. Racism and xenophobia have flourished, like history repeating itself.

Meanwhile, whatever the pattern of voting and the statistics of the outcome of the referendum, Brexit has undoubtedly been the biggest, most monumental and avoidable fuck-up / self-harm exercise by a British government in living memory. Possibly longer. Sadly some people find it far more important to deny that and pretend that the vote was some kind of 'fair fight' and ignore the vast array of serious negative consequences, which will be felt for many years.

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Rich_cb replied to Simon E | 1 year ago
0 likes

Meanwhile, everything Remain said was absolutely true...

Politicians lie, Remain lied just as much as Leave.

If you think some relatively minor trade disruption is the biggest political disaster in living memory I'd suggest you pick up a history book.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago
3 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

Meanwhile, everything Remain said was absolutely true... Politicians lie, Remain lied just as much as Leave. If you think some relatively minor trade disruption is the biggest political disaster in living memory I'd suggest you pick up a history book.

Which particular Remain lie was as bad as the lie on the bus?

I'm not trying to say that there weren't exaggerations by Remain, but I can't think of any outright lies.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
2 likes

The bus slogan took the gross EU contributions figure instead of the net figure after the rebate. Would the slogan have been less effective with £200m as the figure? I doubt it, it's still an unfathomable sum for most people.

The biggest lies Remain told were about house prices and interest rates.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/20/eu-referendum-george-os...

The Treasury 'analysis' that produced those wildly inaccurate prediction was deliberately skewed in order to produce a politically useful figure for the Remain
campaign.

I would argue that utilising a supposedly neutral government department to produce engineered predictions in an attempt to influence a democratic vote is quite a lot worse than any bus slogan, however ambiguous.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago
0 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

The bus slogan took the gross EU contributions figure instead of the net figure after the rebate. Would the slogan have been less effective with £200m as the figure? I doubt it, it's still an unfathomable sum for most people. The biggest lies Remain told were about house prices and interest rates. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/20/eu-referendum-george-os... The Treasury 'analysis' that produced those wildly inaccurate prediction was deliberately skewed in order to produce a politically useful figure for the Remain campaign. I would argue that utilising a supposedly neutral government department to produce engineered predictions in an attempt to influence a democratic vote is quite a lot worse than any bus slogan, however ambiguous.

I don't remember seeing that particular forecast - I'd take it as a plus if house prices were to be reduced (and I do own my own house).

I'd say that the bus slogan was more than just ambiguous - it was even denied to ever exist according to at least one person that was photographed alongside the same bus.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
0 likes

"Let's fund our NHS instead" is a classically ambiguous political statement.

It's deliberately not a promise or even a definite course of action.

In the context of a freestanding referendum it was perfect as the winners of the referendum would not necessarily be in government to make such decisions.

The bus slogan was incredibly clever in that regard.

It enraged Remainers and thus ensured it had enormous press coverage. Those desperately correcting the £350m figure were unwittingly helping the Leave cause by highlighting quite how much money we actually 'sent'.

I would tend to agree that house prices need to come down but I think we are very much in the minority, for most voters the prospect of a near 20% drop in house prices was terrifying. It was a huge story at the time, I'm surprised you missed it. The fact it was a deliberately false figure produced by a government department shows the extent of dishonesty throughout both campaigns.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago
0 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

I would tend to agree that house prices need to come down but I think we are very much in the minority, for most voters property owners the prospect of a near 20% drop in house prices was terrifying.

FTFY

I wonder when or if we'll reach the point where youngsters that have little hope of owning their own home will out-number the property owners.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
0 likes

The interesting point will occur when remote working is fully established (I think we're pretty much there now tbh) and populations start falling rapidly in other nearby countries.

Why pay through the nose for a property in the UK when Italy, Portugal, Latvia etc will be crying out for people to come and live there. (All are projected for a 10-20% population decrease over the next 20-30years or so.)

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chrisonabike replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago
1 like

Think they have been for years, no?

https://www.idealista.com/en/news/lifestyle-spain/2022/11/30/7292-towns-...

Pretty sure most people will stay put.  After all, they could have done exactly that kind of thing when we were a member of the EU!

I suspect for most personal ties / family / cultural familiarity / the UK's often proudly monolingual culture will keep things much as they are.

Whether we see more people headed in the opposite direction because of war / no water / famine / their country flooding is another thing entirely.  I suspect that for all kinds of reasons (yes - economic too, we're still looking good from Albania) we'll still be trying to "take back control of our borders" for decades!

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Rich_cb replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
1 like

There's been an urbanisation trend for a long time but we're on the cusp of something quite unprecedented.

Eastern Europe will see populations fall by nearly 40% peak to trough by 2050. Southern Europe won't be too far behind. Supply and demand being what it is we should see property prices plummeting in these areas so the pull factor will be far greater than it was in the past.

Further afield Japan's population is already decreasing rapidly and China's has just started to decline.

The sheer shortage of workers this will produce globally means countries are more likely to be competing for immigrants rather than putting up barriers to them.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago
3 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

There's been an urbanisation trend for a long time but we're on the cusp of something quite unprecedented.

The collapse of modern civilisation?

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
0 likes

Perhaps.

Most of those countries won't be able to afford anything like the welfare state in its current form once their working populations collapse.

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brooksby replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago
4 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

... some relatively minor trade disruption...

  surprise

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