SOLD: Bicycle, canoe and kayak hire

Saddles & Paddles, the popular leisure business situated on Exeter's historic quayside, has changed hands.

The business (whose name explains all!) was established in 1992, offering locals and visitors a chance to cruise along the beautiful Exe Estuary by bike or boat, by offering bike, canoe and kayak hire. Saddles & Paddles is also a fully functioning bike shop, offering repairs and a range of bikes and accessories. Positioned within the popular historical quayside cellars, with neighbouring pubs, cafes and craft workshops, customer footfall past the shop is always high.

Saddles & Paddles has become a popular attraction for cycle hire, offering bicycles for all ages and abilities and benefitting from the development of cycle paths on flat, traffic-free and picturesque routes, direct from the shop. Following the British success at last year’s Olympic Games and the interest in cycling growing, perhaps the next Bradley Wiggins or Victoria Pendleton will start their sporting career along the paths in Exeter.

In addition to cycling, the business offers a range of canoes and kayaks to hire, popular with families and groups keen to explore the area or visit the pubs along the canal. The location of the shop on Exeter’s historic quayside gives easy access to the old Exeter Ship Canal, offering six miles of safe, inland and non-tidal water and, with a large supply of canoes and kayaks, all abilities and sizes of groups can be accommodated. The quay area also has many other attractions from indoor climbing to 10 pin bowling, offering something for everyone.

The business was acquired in 2001 by local business couple Keith and Victoria Bamsey and has been run largely under management for them. Wishing to concentrate on other business interests they decided to offer the business for sale. They chose to instruct specialist business transfer agency Beardsley Theobalds of Exeter (01392 253071) to act for them in the sale of their business as it was this firm which had handled the sale when they had purchased the business. Beardsley Theobalds conducted a national marketing campaign and the business was also advertised on their own and other industry web sites - interest came from across the country. It attracted a variety people such as those who wished to move to The South West and were attracted by the style of the business and, of course, the figures being made, from local business people who planned to carry on running the business under management and from people saw that they could operate a business centered around their sporting interests. Several offers were submitted for the business but it was local girl Heather Baker who was successful.

Heather has spent the last 10 years working in Local Government in Devon on transport and tourism projects. Most recently, Heather worked for Devon County Council, within which she spent 6 years as a lead officer on a national project to develop Exeter as a "Cycling Demonstration Town", giving her an excellent knowledge of the profile of cycling in the city. Her work saw her leading on future developments for cycling infrastructure, developing new programmes and forging working relationships with local businesses, schools, the public and bike retailers, and leading on cycling development projects nationally.

Heather jumped at the opportunity to take over Saddles & Paddles, and is keen to continue developing the business whilst putting her unique mark on it. "This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I am thrilled to have been successful in acquiring the business. I am passionate about cycling and the outdoors and am confident that the business shows great potential for further developments."

Charles Webb, Beardsley Theobalds