Bowker swaps rail for cycles in new venture

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FORMER rail chief Richard Bowker has turned to two-wheeled transport and opened a cycle shop in Midlothian with his brother.

Bowker resigned as chief executive of National Express (NX) in 2009 when the train operator quit the Scotland-London contract, leaving to become chief executive of Etihad Rail in the United Arab Emirates.

Commenting on how National Express found itself unable to repay the £1.4 billion bid and lost the franchise, he told The Scotsman: “I still believe it was the right bid. We got hit by a global financial crisis. National Express was somewhat unlucky.”

He said he had been discussing a Middle East move for nine months and had not left NX because of the east coast decision.

Bowker, who was previously chief executive of the former Strategic Rail Authority, returned to the UK last autumn and last month became a part-time senior adviser to building consultants EC Harris. He has now launched the first of a possible string of bike shops, Criterium Cycles, with former BMW dealer brother Paul, next to Dobbies in Lasswade.

“We are bringing the professionalism of the motor industry to the cycle business, which has traditionally been a little bit of a ‘hobby’ business,” he said.

He hoped Criterium would also appeal to women more than the “often slightly intimidating and blokey” image of other cycle 
stores, although he admitted it had only one weekend female staff member.