Britain’s best bike trade
On Friday, as Sturmey Archer chased orders from their
big stand at European trade show IFMA Koln, the 300 workers in Nottingham were summoned
to a meeting, told the company was closing and had ten minutes to leave. The company
is insolvent and must close.
Sturmey Archer was bought from Raleigh at the beginning of July for a reported £3m.
The buyers – Lenark of London, an investment house – acquired the assets and goodwill
but did not acquire Sturmey’s Triumph Road sit HEIGHT=”400″ ALIGN=”RIGHT” BORDER=”0″>e.
This site, and the rest of shrunken Raleigh empire on Triumph Road, was sold by Raleigh
to the University of Nottingham for a student housing development.
The Nottingham half of the company was said to be relocating but the Birmingham half
– which makes Brooks saddles – stayed put.
According to Sturmey Archer MD Colin Bateman the closure was due to Lenark not finding
new premises for the company. A relocation to either of the Nottingham suburbs Basford
and Calverton was talked about but never realised.
At the time of the sale to Lenark a “new and exciting and different” product
was promised by Sturmey Archer marketing staff. This, and the 98-year history of
the company, will likely be snapped up cheap by a new buyer. Sturmey Archer and Brooks
are strong brands and the receivers (Smith & Williamson) should be able to sell
them on quite easily.
However the fate of the 300 workers is less clear. Many were long standing employees
of the company and have been left shocked by the news. There was no warning.
Staff were told the closure was to take effect immediately as the company did not
have enough cash to pay wages or other liabilities.
Bateman said: “This is a sad day for bicycle manufacturing in Nottingham, not
to mention for all the staff that work here. We feel very let down. It is a devastating
Sturmey Archer had a long association with Raleigh and in fact the company was created
at the turn of the century by Raleigh’s then owner – and virtual founding father
– Frank Bowden.
He set up the Three Speed Gear Syndicate to capitalise on an idea patented by J S
Archer (but in fact the work of William Reilly) and then copied 11 days later by
Henry Sturmey. Bowden, Sturmey, Archer and Reilly were the company’s first directors.
Raleigh won worldwide acclaim for the new hub gears and the rest, as they say, is