If you are a Londoner, you will be well aware of Ofo; a cycle hire firm that at one point had 6000 bikes dotted around the capital city. But today, the firm has announced that they will be pulling out of London, no longer offering their services to London’s commuters and tourists.
According to sources, the Chinese-owned brand is struggling to fight off bankruptcy, with exiting London being a strategic move to save the company. Backed by Alibaba, the brand introduced yellow bikes that users could leave in the streets of London, permitted to be hired through applications with complete ease.
Just a few months ago, the hire firm decided to ditch Norwich, Sheffield and Oxford, removing their bikes from the cities so that they could focus on London.
However, with a large proportion of their bikes either disappearing or vandalised, it appears their venture was short-lived. This, paired with a string of large competitors in the market, some would argue that this eventuality was inescapable.
Now, Ofo shows many signs of winding down, giving their last 50 employees the option to leave or take a 50% salary cut and move over to their Chinese division.
What does the future hold for London’s bike hire industry?
Last year, Ofo’s Chinese rival, Bluegogo, ceased trading, leaving Ofo to go head-to-head with Mobike’s in a race to become the ‘Uber of bikes’.
But, many criticised the quality of the bikes themselves. Emily Brooke, the owner of Beryl, which provides laserlights for Santander bikes, said the following of Ofo and Mobike:
“They haven’t got the ability to tailor their offering to different areas; they’ve got one model from China.”
Let us know what you think. What does the future hold for London’s bike hire industry? Is there now room for a new bike hire firm to come and clear up?