A LARGE Southampton bike shop faces closure after Halfords said it was shutting its Cycle Republic chain.

The retailer said it was axing all 22 of the stores, putting 226 jobs at risk unless a buyer comes forward.

The Southampton store, in Brunswick Place, stocks 160 bikes, including e-bikes, and offers a repairs workshop.

It supports all the major cycle to work initiatives.

As well as the Cycle Republic shops, Halfords said it would be shutting its performance centre in Eversham as it focuses on its online cycling business, Tredz.

It said it expects the closures, which are due to complete in the first half of the next financial year, will cost the firm between £25million and £35m.

Halfords said it was looking to mitigate redundancies where possible and was “also actively exploring opportunities to sell the sites as a going concern”.

The Cycle Republic business was “low-returning” and “stock intensive”, Halfords said, meaning the exit would free up investment and resources to drive into its motoring business.

The company said it would continue to invest in cycling through the online-focused Tredz business and its Halfords retail cycling arm.

Last year, the Cycle Republic business reported a £4.3m loss, which is predicted to be “materially smaller” in 2020.

Halfords chief executive Graham Stapleton said: “The board has come to the difficult, but necessary, decision to propose the closure of Cycle Republic, our retail stores-focused performance cycling brand.

“This proposal is not a reflection of the hard work of our Cycle Republic colleagues, who I would like to thank for their commitment and passion in serving our customers.

“Going forward we propose to focus our investment and resources in Halfords and Tredz, through which we will deliver market-leading specialist propositions for both mainstream and enthusiast cyclists via a business model that improves our overall economics.”

Cycle Republic opened its first store at Euston Tower, London, in 2014, where it was the first business to offer courtesy bikes to customers whose bikes were in its workshop for an extended period of time.