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Sigma Sport has come a long way from its beginnings back in 1992. Initially the dream of two inspired individuals, it has evolved into one of the most respected names in road and triathlon retail today.

Black Sheep’s Nik Howe sat down with Jason Turner to talk about those humble beginnings, the evolution of the store, and the time 150 of their riders gate crashed a Live 8 concert in Lycra, with a police escort, in France.

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ON HUMBLE BEGINNINGS.

Nik Howe: So this all started selling Belgium cycling kit in the classified section of British cycling rags?

 

Jason Turner: Absolutely. We took an overdraft with the bank and headed over to the big cycle wholesalers in Belgium, the exchange rates were good for us and they liked us paying cash. We would then sell the goods through adverts in Cycling Weekly, before the days of the internet.”

“We would then sell the goods through adverts in Cycling Weekly, before the days of the internet.”

 

 

BEHIND THE NAME.

NH: So tell us what is behind the name, Sigma?

 

JT: There was a trend at the time for cycle stores to use ‘sport’ in their name rather than ‘bikes’ or ‘cycles’. Using the name ‘sport’ rather than ‘cycles’ really worked well for us when we started doing triathlon products as well as road bikes. The ‘Sigma’ part is simply a letter of the greek alphabet that seemed to go well with ‘Sport’.

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GOOD PEOPLE. GOOD BUSINESS.

NH: Tell us about the people behind Sigma Sport. For us, it’s almost as if the people behind the store are more visible, more well-known than the store itself.

 

JT: There are lots of things special about the store, it’s design, product offering, our fit studio and workshops. But mostly the people, they all cycle and they all love it! Some race, some do triathlon and others just like riding to work on interesting bikes. They are a great team, good people really do make a good business.

 

The athletes we have been involved with along the way make Sigma Sport pretty special. In the early years we worked with track champion Tony Doyle, National road race champion Matt Stephens and even loaned Bradley Wiggins a bike when he was in between pro contracts. On top of all this we had our own national pro road team, IG-Sigma Sport, for ten years and raced in the Tour of Britain. We now support two local amateur teams one male, one female.

 

“[We] even loaned Bradley Wiggins a bike when he was in between pro contracts.”
“It’s only when people point it out do we stop and think about how far we come. Day to day we are so engrossed in dealing with the challenges of a growing business and constantly trying to improve on what we offer, both in-store and online.”
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“It’s also about listening to your customer and finding out what they want from you and trying to deliver this.”
 
 

24 YEARS IN THE MAKING.

NH: You’ve been around since 1992. That‘s a long time. A lot has happened in the cycling industry, particularly in the UK, since then. What makes you as relevant today as you were then?

 

JT: We have seen huge change in the industry and massive growth in the popularity of road cycling during our time in business. We have also seen a huge change in consumer behaviour in the last few years. I think our ability to be flexible and adapt to this ever-changing market will be what keeps us relevant. It’s also about listening to your customer and finding out what they want from you and trying to deliver this.

THE MEMORIES.

NH: Sigma is well known for the incredible trips you organise for your customers. Surely there are some crazy stories in there somewhere?

 

JT: I’ve been on many cycling trips with many customers and there are always some great moments to be had both on and off the bike. A few of our trips to Ghent in Belgium to ride the Tour of Flanders sportive have been eventful due to the overindulgence of Belguim beer the night before. One of the early London to Paris trips (in 2005) organised by one of our customers was pretty memorable when we could not get to our hotel in Versailles due to the Live 8 Concert, after some negotiation our group of around 150 riders ended up with a full police escort through crowds of concert goers right into the centre of Versailles.

“…after some negotiation our group of around 150 riders ended up with a full police escort through crowds of concert goers right into the centre of Versailles.”

 

BRITISH CYCLING.

NH: How has the success of British cyclists like Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome impacted the business?

 

JT: It has put cycling in the spotlight, It makes our 10 o‘clock news, front pages of newspapers, celebrities talk about it and importantly for us it has got people into cycling… and some of these people have become our customers. Although as with any market that increases, so too does he competition so we have to stay on our toes.

CYCLING. THE ULTIMATE FREEDOM.

NH: What’s the one indelible mark that cycling has left on you – Mr Jason Turner?

 

JT: As a kid cycling gave me freedom, I still get a sense of that now when I ride, by yourself it’s good thinking time, with others it’s very social. I’ve made friends through cycling and it helps keep me fit. I do get a bit grumpy if I have not been on the bike for a while, cycling has become something I need to do.

“As a kid cycling gave me freedom…”
SIGMA SPORT