A former Ilkley resident is set to open a new specialist outdoor and bike store in the town he grew up in. Dave Hanney is the Co-Founder and CEO of Alpkit and its sister-brand Sonder bikes. He grew up in Ben Rhydding, attended St Mary’s school in Menston, and stills pops back to see his mum.
Alpkit will open its first Yorkshire store at the end of June in the Station Plaza on Station Road, in the shop previously occupied by Laura Ashley. Based on the edge of the Peak District, Alpkit and Sonder bikes was founded by enthusiasts to offer technical performance clothing and equipment at accessible prices for running, hiking, climbing, camping, swimming and cycling. Alpkit currently has six stores in Britain as well as a thriving website. They will recruit a team of eight staff for the new store which will hold the full Alpkit and Sonder range, a repair station as well running events in and around Ilkley.
“My dad had a shop on Grove Promenade for years called Hanney Embroidery and the new Alpkit store is just a couple of minutes’ walk from where it was so this opening is really special for me,” said Hanney. “We’ve had our eye on Ilkley for a while as I know from first-hand experience that it’s a brilliant base to enjoy the outdoors from. Whether it’s running over to Dick Hudsons, cycling up to Grassington, mountain biking in Chevin Woods or swimming in the Wharfe, I’ve many happy memories of enjoying the outdoors in and around the Ilkley.
“When I took my mum for her Covid vaccination, I noticed the Laura Ashley unit was vacant and jumped at the chance to bring Alpkit to the community I grew up in. I’m very keen to recruit locally and would encourage anyone who loves the outdoors and is knowledgeable about where to go locally for adventures to apply.
“Alpkit Ilkley will play a full role in the town. We’ll run community events, outdoor skills courses, group bike rides and walks from the store. There will also be a workshop to mend and repair any brand of outdoor product or bike. We want Alpkit to become a hub for both local residents and visitors to Ilkley who love adventures in the outdoors.”
Commenting on why Alpkit is investing in the high street when so many retailers are leaving it, Hanney said: “We still see strong growth in physical retail, particularly in the locations that we’re choosing which tend to be where the outdoor enthusiasts are.
“During the pandemic, like all retail we’ve seen a shift to online sales but as we come out of restrictions, we’re seeing a change in consumer behaviour to hyper-local retail; people are moving from city centres and retail parks to shopping in their local areas.
“Stores are also important when you’re selling technical products as the physical experience of trying out an item is important to customers before they buy. But Alpkit is much more than just selling products. We’re a place to come and have a break from the rest of the world, sit on the sofa with a drink and dream about something else for a while. All this is a huge point of difference for Alpkit.”
Founded in 2004, Alpkit now employs 100 staff and figures for the year to October 2019 showed it achieved £7.1m sales and £500,000 in profits with over 100,000 customers served. The business has grown 20-fold in the last seven years.
Alpkit is recognised as a leader in the outdoor industry for sustainability and is a certified B Corp. B Corp assesses and audits companies against rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Alpkit was certified at the first attempt with a score of 95 which places them firmly in the leading pack of the UK’s highest ranking sustainable businesses.
One percent of all sales and ten percent of profit goes to Alpkit Foundation, Alpkit’s independent charity set up to remove barriers to getting outdoors and experiencing wild places. To date it has given £300,000 to over 1,000 projects to help get people outside.
In 2020, the company raised £1.5m when it invited customers and staff to become shareholders. Alpkit hit their target in just eight minutes – a record for the Crowdcube platform.
The funds raised are being used to open new stores, including the one in Ilkley.