Bike shops across the city of Groningen are none too pleased by the growing popularity of Swapfiets: store owners cite the blue-wheeled bike leasing service as the reason for their declining profits.
Translation by Traci White
Swapfiets, a Delft-based company which also operates in Leeuwarden, leases its bikes for 14.50 euros per month, and the concept is especially popular among students. There are currently 10,700 subscribers to the service in Groningen, which bike shop owners say is negatively impacting their bottom line.
RTV Noord spoke with dozens of bike shop owners across the city, and many of them reported that their profits have been going down as Swapfiets has grown in popularity. The company started renting out its characteristic blue-wheeled bikes in April of 2017. Not only does Swapfiets provide bikes, but the subscription service also covers minor repairs like flat tires, which also means less business for the bike shops.
One second hand bike shop, whose owners requested anonymity, reportedly saw their profits decline from around 100,000 euros three years ago to 64,000 euros this past year. Rami Srour, the owner of De Rotonde Fietsen, says that his numbers are also down: before Swapfiets came to town, his shop typically sold around eight bikes a day. Srour says that the shop is lucky to sell two on a good day. His shop’s repair services have also been less popular, down from around 30 repairs a day to 10 on average.
A handful of bike shop owners say that they have had to try and find alternative sources of income, setting their sights on selling higher end bikes to compensate for their loses. But business continues to boom at the Swapfiets garage, where the company handles around 50 bike repairs a day and sees around 250 new subscriptions weekly. The company is expecting to have around 16,000 subscribers by the end of 2019.