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Jobs drive at Chain Reaction Cycles to meet 130% global surge in demand


Chain Reaction's flagship premises on Boucher Road

Chain Reaction's flagship premises on Boucher Road

Chain Reaction's flagship premises on Boucher Road

Chain Reaction Cycles has said it's hiring new staff as demand for its products has more than doubled during lockdown.

The company, which is best known for selling online, said demand for indoor cycling equipment has also rocketed by more than three times its usual sales.

The business has a factory in Ballyclare, a shop on Belfast's Boucher Road and a new office in Mallusk.

Gary Wells, head of marketing, said: "Demand for bikes has jumped by 130% and we are shipping products all over the world, many of which are world-leading brands designed in Northern Ireland.

"We have filled many roles in the last couple of years and we expect that recruitment process to be ongoing, with a number of roles live.

"We have developer roles, positions within the marketing team and customer service, and there may be others if the increased demand continues."

Speaking about opportunities to progress in the company, Mr Wells said: "There is no better place to be in Northern Ireland when it comes to ecommerce.

"We have a global marketing team and in areas of ecommerce, engineering and design as well as buying and merchandising there is a lot of career potential."

Despite the unprecedented surge in demand for bikes, Mr Wells said the business has coped well.

"Demand is a lot higher than what we would've forecast but our commercial and buying and merchandising teams have been working well with our supply chain with as little disruption to the customer as possible."

An increased uptake in cycling and travelling by pushbikes has also seen Chain Reaction join a national campaign to promote the benefits of cycling. "This is the biggest industry-wide campaign in the UK in my lifetime," Mr Wells explained.

"We are promoting the benefits of cycling through the campaign, including a recent study that shows that people who cycle to work have a 24% lesser risk of dying from cardiovascular-related conditions."

He said the campaign will encourage the public to use their bikes for the work commute when business resumes.

To further support the use of bikes, the company continues to invest in maintaining mountain bike trails here.

It has also supported key workers during lockdown, including replacing a stolen bike for an NHS worker.

"There have been a couple of instances where we quietly saw where people could benefit from our help," he added.

Mr Wells said Chain Reaction's Boucher Road store is "moving to our first phase of reopening next week", and that details of opening times will be published soon.

It follows on from the Executive's announcement on Thursday that some shops in retail parks could reopen on June 8.

In 2016 Chain Reaction merged with English bike firm Wiggle. At the time it was believed the merged entity would boast a revenue in excess of £300m.

Speaking about the merger, Mr Wells said significant investment had been made with the opening of new "state-of-the-art" offices in Mallusk in 2018.

"We have had a lot of success since the merger, and talent here has shone through which has benefited the group, along with our teams in England and further afield."

Chain Reaction was set up in Ballynure by cycling enthusiasts George and Janice Watson in 1984. A mail order service was established in 1998, and by 2001 the team had set up an ecommerce site.

In 2011 the company opened a 10,000sq ft standalone retail store in Belfast, stocking a selection of road, mountain, BMX, commuting and triathlon bikes as well as a range of components, clothing, footwear, equipment and tools.