OPENING STORES WITH SOLID BUSINESS PEDIGREE

OPENING STORES WITH SOLID BUSINESS PEDIGREE

MATT Turner (pictured) has a solid business pedigree – his father Graham is the founder of Flight Centre – but Turner Jr is cycling his own path to success.

Opening five new stores in the past year in locations, including Melbourne and Sydney, has boosted growth figures and staff numbers for 99 Bikes founder Matt Turner.

However online presence is proving tricky as the company seeks ways to improve its e-commerce model.

“We’ve also been trying to increase our online presence over the past 12 months, but sales figures have been disappointing and we don’t know why yet. In a normal shop we make about $8000 a day in sales, but on the web we’re currently averaging about $20 a day,” says Turner.

“We’re not getting the big bike sales online that we’d like – we haven’t got it right yet so we’re changing it so we can move ahead in some way. We won’t know the solution until we start getting more sales.

“Although our turnover has increased 22 per cent to $11 million, we think this figure can be improved and the import side of the business is going well, so that’s something we’ll continue to focus on in future.”

Road bikes and fashionable models have been the biggest growth categories for the business.

“Recently, it’s as much about fashion as it is about fitness – the colour and look of the bike is important as well as the accessories that go with it and the popularity of road bikes is also increasing,” says Turner.

“Mountain bikes and BMX’s continue to be strong categories and there is a growing group of people who want a good quality bike to ride to work or to use for leisure on the weekends – they’re not after a racing bike, just something to get them around.”

Turner has plans to open more stores in 2012 and says focusing on the internal workings of the organisation is more important than the external.

“Our challenges in FY12 will be getting our online store going, supporting our staff and avoiding looking at our competitors, external factors or trends in the market,” he says.

“We’re always focusing on the internal challenges and the rest just takes care of itself. What’s happening externally is out of our control, but if the shop is managed well and has a strong team behind it, then the external just fades in significance.

“We have stores in different locations, mostly with the same demographic and more and more now stores are getting dramatically different results, so it’s become clear that it’s all about the people in the store and how they’re performing.”

After constantly introducing new lines, Turner plans on consolidating this side of the business to gain consistency of product.

“Basically, we had a huge range of products that were different, but all had the same function. We’ll stick to our core business which is anything and everything for cycling, but we’d like consolidate our range across the stores to help with our buying power,” he says.

Before starting the business, Turner worked as a physiotherapist and was ‘looking for a challenge’.

“I knew my parents would be happy to fund a business venture, so I started looking for a sport or physio business. I was into cycling at the time, so I decided to open a bike shop,” he says.

“I put three months of planning in, but didn’t really know what I was doing, so I found a small shop in Milton that was 180 sqm and hired two people that knew the bike industry and learned from them.

“We had some luck at the start that helped us do well, a couple of the products we bought in sold really well and we stumbled across some branded and imported bikes that were really well priced and that helped us get off to a good start.”

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YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR FINALIST
Matt Turner
99 Bikes
SPORTS RETAIL
Age: 30
Business Est: 2007
Staff: 75
Growth: 22 per cent
Turnover: $11 million

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