According to respected UK trade journalist Carlton Reid in an article published in BikeBiz on 10th February, Wiggle is poised to buy Chain Reaction its largest rival in the global online bicycle market.
Wiggle was founded in 1999 as an offshoot from Butlers Cycles, a Portsmouth bike shop, Wiggle grew and grew, and was sold to Bridgepoint Capital for £180m (Aus $367 million) in 2011.
Chain Reaction Cycles sprang from a small bike shop in the tiny town of Ballyclare, Northern Ireland, in 1989. The shop is now a barber’s shop, a very small barber’s shop. This was the second shop. The first, started in 1984, was Ballynure Cycles, an even smaller operation. The business was founded by George and Janice Watson – their first sale was a chain link costing 11p. When, in 1998, the business moved to Ballyclare the decision was made to change the firm’s name, and Chain Reaction Cycles was born. The website was launched the following year.
Almost 40 percent of CRC’s sales come from outside the European Union, as dealers in Australia and America know only too well. In October 2015 Wiggle reported an 11.5 percent rise in sales, with a turnover of £179m (Aus $365 million).
Wiggle and Chain Reaction have been fighting head to head for many years, with Wiggle moving ahead of Chain Reaction in 2013 when sales at the family-owned firm dropped six percent to £145m (Aus $295 million). The Watson family is said to have a personal fortune of £200m (Aus $408 million).
Nobody at Wiggle or Chain Reaction will confirm a sale is on the cards.
This article was first published in BikeBiz.com