Ray Fearon, having completed a B.Sc. in Business Management, started trading as Ray’s Bike Shop in Rathgar, Dublin. The year was 1982. This is his story.
Shortly after opening his bike shop, Ray was joined by his brother Michael and over the next 30 years, together with their dedicated staff, they built the business into Ireland’s biggest cycle store.
What’s your elevator pitch?
In short, The Cycle Superstore, from humble beginnings, is now the largest bicycle retailer in the country.
How long have you been in business?
Established in a shed in Rathgar in 1982 we’ve had many moves since then to our new superstore on the Airton Road in Tallaght. It’s been a very fast 30 years.
“My advice to anybody starting out? Don’t rush in, seek good professional advice and adhere to it.”
What did you want to be ‘when you grew up’?
Believe it or not a Garda. I think it was a power thing and as soon as I got sense, that ambition ended.
A RELATED GUIDE: How to start a business from home, the pros and cons.
What’s your ambition now?
To continue building on what we have achieved so far and build a center for cycling excellence on par with any place in the world. Our motto is “We can do it better.”
What’s the most important thing you have learned so far in business?
Every day is different, take a deep breath and never think you have it cracked.
What was your biggest ‘mistake’ been, in business so far?
Negotiating and entering into commercial leases. We have had many over the years, and none were a good experience. My advice to anybody starting out? Don’t rush in, seek good professional advice and adhere to it.
“Armed with a business plan and a personal guarantee from our father, we went round the houses with no joy.”
Who inspires you in the business world?
What can I say? A great friend to the cycle industry and cyclists in general, Michael O’Leary. You can’t fault what he has achieved.
What historical figure would you choose to have dinner with?
If I could not get the big man I would settle for JFK, he could tell a tale or two.
If you were ‘ruler for a day’ what would you do to change the business or social climate in this country?
Something that would be brilliant for our economy and the country’s social climate would be a nationwide, purpose-built, dedicated network of cycle lanes.
Did you receive any supports to start your business and what do you need most at this stage of your business?
In the early years we went looking to finance our first building (we still have it today). Grants were, and still are, not,readily available to retailers. So, armed with a business plan and a personal guarantee from our father, we went round the houses with no joy. Not even from our own bank. Only one considered us in the end. Anglo Irish Bank. Go figure!
At this stage in our business, we do require different levels of funding for expansion but are reluctant to go there because of the onerous processes required by the banking sector. I accept there was a need to change their practices, but I feel regulations have gone too far the other way. They are not pro-business I feel.