The Story - Part II
The Millennium Dome opening its doors, Britain’s first Tour de France winner, and Barack Obama becoming America’s first African American president - the new millennium was set to shake things up. After establishing itself in the 1990s, Sigma Sport entered the next decade with big ambitions.
By the late 1990s the store, at number 15 High Street, Hampton Wick, was starting to reach maximum capacity. With the lease ending, the founders, Ian and Jason set their sights on finding their third store. The Sigma Shuffle was becoming tiresome and frustrations over the lack of space were brewing. Wanting to do more with the store, improve the variety of products and offer a bike fitting service, bigger premises were sorely needed.
“The next option was to get a bigger store. How big was the question, and where?” - Jason Turner
Staying in Hampton Wick was important to the duo. It was Sigma Sport’s spiritual home and the high street was busy, with a good connection to London. A real thoroughfare for cyclists, Ian and Jason were able to find and secure suitable premises just down the road from their existing store.
Sigma Sport’s next chapter had begun.
Keeping pace and leading the pack
With the demands of cyclists changing along with the technological advances seen in the pro peloton, Sigma Sport maintained its promise, providing the very best cycling equipment to dedicated riders.
Whilst brands like Assos have remained a mainstay of Sigma Sport’s range for over 25 years, other innovations had to be spotted ahead of the game. Early adopters and stockists of power meters and disc brake bikes, Sigma Sport has always tried to be right on the cutting edge.
From Briko sunglasses to Oakley lenses and from aluminium to carbon, Sigma Sport are always looking to offer products that help you get on your bike and ride. Orders rising to reflect that wider choice, today’s dispatch team often send out over 1000 orders in a day.
Despite growing to meet the demand of the cycling community at large, the key to the company's continued success has been its core of local riders. One sure sign of this is staff member Bill, who vividly remembers walking into the Hinchley Wood store back in the early nineties. Still racing in his 70s, Bill is now working as part of the warehouse team.
As 2005 rolled in, Sigma Sport was still going strong, but the announcement that the 2012 Olympics would be hosted by London was not just going to impact Britain greatly, it was also going to signify the start of a golden era for Sigma Sport.
After a memorable opening ceremony at the Olympic Park in Stratford, the London 2012 Olympics had begun and in Sigma Sport’s 20th year the store was treated to the Men’s Olympic Time Trial passing right by its front doors.
"None of us realised how big and how amazing that event and that day was going to be. It really was something spectacular." - Ian Whittingham, Managing Director
The moment that stands out for Ian most was when Bradley Wiggins raced past and received, by far, the biggest cheer of the day. From an electric atmosphere barrier side, hoards of excited fans headed into the store to watch the remainder of the time trial on large screens.
"When he won, the place went absolutely crazy. It was on the back of his Tour de France victory, so Wiggo fever was already there."
The summer of 2012 had not been a good one, with trade for that July suffering as a consequence. It felt like the sun had come out when the Olympics started, with three amazing weeks of sport and an unbelievable level of success in cycling.
The effect it had on the business and the entire cycle trade for next few years was incredible. Sigma Sport recorded the best ever month for bike sales, to that point, in September. This translated into a busy store right through even to the quietest months that year.
That post-Olympic fever was not just reserved for the summer of 2012, as even four years on the repercussions of this world-class event were still being felt at Sigma Sport and in the cycling industry.
Stars in Store
Wiggo fever wasn’t the only thing gripping the store over that summer though. Fabian Cancellara used Sigma Sport as a base when he went out to recce the 2012 Olympic course.
Arriving at 9am, Fabian used the store as a base for the day. After changing into his cycling attire and checking over his bike, built by George, one of our mechanics, the multiple world champion set off around the course with his GoPro. A lunch with a few members of staff followed before he headed deeper into Surrey and then over to London to recce the remainder of the course.
Fast forward five years and the Swiss champion was back in store, with Gore Bike Wear, ahead of the 2017 Rouleur Classic. Taking part in a ride with customers around Richmond Park, Fabian then spent the afternoon answering questions from customers in store. It was a really special day for both Sigma Sport and all the guests who were able to attend.
Earlier in 2017, and Fabian’s former teammate, Frank Schleck visited the store, with Mavic, for a ride out with customers and a Q&A with the Col Collective’s Mike Cotty.
It’s not just road racing stars that have entered through the doors of St John’s Place. To cap off a fantastic 2017, two of triathlon’s biggest names, Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, paid Sigma Sport a visit. In conjunction with Scott, the duo answered questions put to them by a captivated audience.
“We’ve got some exciting things up our sleeve for 2018. Watch this space.” - Ian Whittingham
Giving back to the sport
As well as running a successful pro continental cycling team, racing in the Tour of Britain and working with some of Britain’s most decorated triathletes, Ian and Jason have looked to opportunities outside of the professional athlete scene.
A longstanding partner of HotChillee, an event’s company that prides itself on delivering professional events for amateurs, Sigma Sport have sent both staff and customers to some of the company’s most memorable events, including the London to Paris and Cape Rouleur. In addition to this Sigma Sports have recently been working with Human Race Events and, for 2018, with UK Cycling Events, launching the Sigma Sports Challenge Series, which is made up of 10 exciting rides spanning the length of the country.
"In 2017 for me there are two standout events, one of which was the Black Sheep Man Ride, an incredible experience riding through Wales to raise awareness for men’s mental health, which is a pretty profound cause.” - Ian Whittingham
This event saw Ian clock up some of the biggest rides he’s ever done. With the final day riding from Bristol to the store in London and meeting around 100 customers who joined the Man Ride group for the final 30 miles.
The second highlight for the year was joining HotChillee out in Morocco and spending a few days riding around Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains. The first day was on tarmac and then the following three days were on gravel.
"It was a really unique experience and one that I hope to repeat soon. It makes me really excited about the sport. There’s always something new and challenging to do.” - Ian Whittingham
“Gravel is fun in this country but it takes it to another level when you stick your bike in a case and head out to somewhere like that.” - Ian Whittingham
With the company rapidly expanding, the head office team in September 2017 moved from their Esher location to a modern office space in Hampton Wick. This meant the content, purchasing and marketing teams are now housed under one roof. This left Esher as a key location for the customer service and dispatch teams. All of the distribution goes through there, as well as warehousing and bike builds. As well as being one of the reserve and collect locations, the 15,000 sq ft of warehouse space means Sigma Sport can hold stock of some of the most popular brands and products.
“Building the online presence in the 2000’s was super important, and over the last five years we have seen the change in the way our customers are shopping with us. To strengthen the store we have introduced a reserve and collect service.” - Jason Turner
“I love the location of our new office, being so close to our shop, I am back in there almost daily. Every day you see customers I remember from our original store in Hinchley Wood. I feel proud and honoured these people are still shopping with us, 20 odd years later.” - Ian Whittingham
After 25 years where we’ve consistently been referred to as Sigma Sports we have succumbed and added the 's' to the end of our name to become Sigma Sports.
The reason behind the subtle rebranding was to accommodate our move to a dot-com domain and establish ourselves in the international markets.
“After a year working with a design agency in Shoreditch, London and many names suggested, it became clear how much we were wedded to the Sigma Sport name and this also meant we had a logo for the first time.”
On the 16th January 2018, the website moved to www.sigmasports.com, the logo was introduced and over the next few weeks and months there will be a gradual rebranding of the business, with signage, uniforms and a new Sigma Sports cycling kit.
There are also some significant changes in store, with work on a second fit room currently taking place to handle the ever-growing bike fit service Sigma Sport provide. A second fitter and shorter lead times in the summer for customers will ensure the service provided is better than ever going forward.
Downstairs, the bike handover area is having an overhaul with an extension planned for this vital section of the business. This is where staff take measurements from customers for new bikes and make the handovers. Everything from showing someone how to use the gears to adjustments to handlebars and final changes to sizing to make sure the customer leaves on a bike that is spot on.
Want to know where it all began? Read part 1 of our history of Sigma Sport series.
"Evolution rather than revolution, the future for Sigma Sports will be an exciting one."Jason Turner