Jonathan Blanchard FCCA:CFO, Evans Cycles

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Keen cycle commuter and Evans Cycles CFO Jonathan Blanchard FCCA keeps the cogs spinning in a business where a seemingly limitless n+1 formula drives customer demand

In business, some people talk the talk; they tell a good story but actually doing anything about it is more of a challenge. Others walk the walk; for them, delivering on what they say is the measure of their effectiveness.

Jonathan Blanchard bikes the bike. As CFO of retailer Evans Cycles, he unfolds his £850 Brompton bike in central London, rides to Victoria station where he catches the Gatwick Express train, then rides from the airport to the company’s head office and 125,000 sq ft distribution depot. Blanchard shares his company’s passion for bikes. He’s clocked up 3,500 miles on his, just from doing his daily commute since he joined the company in 2012.

‘We sell several bikes at that £5,000 price each week – but we’re selling thousands of bikes each week,’ he says. ‘Our bread-and-butter is bikes between £500 and £1,000.’

Happiness is n+1

If that sounds like a lot, there is a tongue-in-cheek formula that true cycling enthusiasts use to describe the number of bikes you should own to lead a happy and fulfilled life: it’s n+1, where n is the number of bikes you currently own. The point is, however wonderful, expensive and carbon-featherweight your newest bike, soon you will be hungry to buy another – even if it means leaving the car outside the garage because there’s no room for it inside.

Such has been the growth in cycling that, over the last five years, Evans’ revenue has doubled to £130m ‘and we have ambitions to keep growing at a similar pace over the next five years’, Blanchard says. About half the revenue comes from bikes, the rest is from PAC – parts, accessories and clothing. After all, you just have to have the latest Lycra, the best gear derailleur and the cleverest GPS tracker.

About 1,000 of Evans’ 1,300 employees are cyclists, although it’s not a requirement if you want to work in the finance department. An accountancy qualification is strongly encouraged, though. Blanchard got his ACCA in 1988: ‘From a professional point of view it was the best thing I ever did. All of our senior finance team are qualified accountants 
and we have two junior accountants we are supporting through their qualifications.’

This is an extract from an article in Accounting and Business Magazine, first published in September 2014. Read the full article

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