Triathlete’s inspiration

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Planet X owes its creation to the entrepreneurial spirit of triathlete Dave Loughran.

One of Dave’s first ventures began when he realised he could keep himself supplied with energy bars for free if he bought them in bulk and sold them to fellow competitors.

That grew into a £1 million turnover business before he was bought out, but by then he had begun importing bicycle frames from Italy and components from Taiwan, another global leader in the field.

At first, the business sold products through distributors and to shops catering for enthusiasts like Dave himself and Brant Richards, who joined the firm in 1999.

Soon the duo realised there were people who would like a bespoke bike, but didn’t want to go through building their own and experimenting with set ups and equipment.

“Dave’s original warehouse was a bedroom in his mum’s house in Eckington, then he expanded to two garden sheds,” Brant Richards recalls.

The company moved to Carcroft and then to its current headquarters in two units on the Ignite Business Park, close to the Magna Science Adventure Centre.

In addition to supplying enthusiasts with parts and ready built bespoke bikes, the company also sells accessories and clothing, including its own design of waterproof overshoes, which use Velcro fixings, rather than zips.

Although the Internet remains the main means for reaching its customers world wide, the company is now looking at opening a limited number of retail units. The first is in Barnsley, close to the Trans Pennine Trail, in a unit that had been a bicycle shop in the past.

“We’re not going hell for leather on the high street,” says Planet X’s chief executive, David Hanney.

“We are considering opening a handful of stores around the UK, but it’s early days. The Barnsley shop is in a wonderful location, backing on to the Trans Pennine Train and close to the M1. It was an opportunity.

“We had a guy who flew in from Singapore to Heathrow, hired a car, drove up here, bought two bikes, put them in the car and then flew back to Singapore with them.”

Barnsley, he argues, is close enough to the Rotherham head office to trial the idea of developing retail outlets, but also far enough away to start building the disciplines needed for running remote stores.