Belfast Telegraph

Chain Reaction's old warehouse is put on market for £2m by new owner Wiggle

By Margaret Canning

The former warehouse of homegrown company Chain Reaction Cycles in Co Antrim has gone on the market for nearly £2m following its takeover by a rival last year, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

But company owner Wiggle has said job cuts which were announced last year will in fact be fewer than expected.

Around 313 job losses had been announced in October last year, with changes to be introduced in late summer 2017.

A building on Kilbride Road in Doagh, Ballyclare, which had been Chain Reaction Cycle's main warehouse - where its orders for cycle accessories were processed before being sent around the world - is now on the market through commercial property agents O'Connor Kennedy Turtle.

OKT described the five acre site as a "modern warehousing/manufacturing facility" made up of three connected buildings with some office accommodation and yard space.

It was described as "strategically located" on the Kilbride Road in Doagh, with "excellent transport links" via the nearby M2.

It's summed up as "in very good condition and suitable for immediate occupancy".

It's not clear when Chain Reaction Cycles left the site.

A spokesman for Wiggle said: "We are in the final stages of transitioning our Carrick and Kilbride warehouses.

"Following the restructuring process, the number of employees affected by this announcement will be much less than previously anticipated."

And it's understood another company warehouse in Carrickfergus is also to be sold. Instead, the work of the warehouses will be carried out at Wiggle's headquarters in Wolverhampton.

The company said last year that relocating warehouse activities in Doagh, Carrickfergus and Ballyclare was a "necessary step". It added: "As part of this proposal, bikes and frames, including bike assembly handling activities and our wheel build operation would remain in Ballyclare."

Wiggle last year said the measures were necessary "to retain its position and remain competitive in the UK as well as an increasingly global market".

Chain Reaction Cycles, based in Ballyclare, became one of the world's most famous online retailers after starting out as a family-run bike shop in Ballynure, Co Antrim. The shop was set up by Janice and George Watson, before their children joined the firm.

And their son Chris was credited with much of the firm's expansion and move to embrace online retail.

Its sale to rival Wiggle went through last year, after which the company announced a "review of operations".

The company said 152 permanent positions across three sites in Doagh, Carrickfergus and Ballyclare were at risk of redundancy as well as the posts of 161 agency staff, with the jobs to go in 2017.

It also said at least 275 employees would continue to work for it in Northern Ireland.

And it said warehouse operations would be shifted to Wolverhampton.

Trade unions and politicians last year said the company's decision to cut jobs and move warehousing to Wolverhampton was "indefensible".

"Earlier in the year, Unite reps raised concerns with political leaders that Wiggle's acquisition might be driven by a desire to buy a competitors' order-book with little long-term commitment to its workforce.

"We were given assurances that this was not the case."

DUP East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson accused Wiggle of "blatant and cynical asset-stripping".

Belfast Telegraph