(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 8 Aug, 2017) London, Uk – –
Founder Simon Mottram to remain chief executive after private equity firm RZC wins race for upmarket sportswear label
British upmarket cycling brand Rapha has been sold to two heirs of the Walmart dynasty for £200m.
Rapha, founded by branding consultant and lifelong cyclist Simon Mottram in 2004, announced on Monday that it had been sold to RZC Investments, a private equity firm run by Steuart and Tom Walton. They are grandchildren of Sam Walton, founder of Walmart.
Cycling fashion outfit Rapha plots route into the fast lane
The sale values Mottram’s stake in the business at £25m, although the company said he would retain a “significant part” of his shareholding and would remain chief executive of the business. Many of Mottram’s friends and family are also shareholders.
“This is an exciting day for Rapha,” Mottram said. “The arrival of RZC Investments as a shareholder means we can pursue our mission to elevate cycling as a global sport and recruit more participants by engaging them and enabling them to ride with us at all levels.”
Mottram said the cash injection from RZC would be spent on its global expansion, with plans for 100 stores or “clubhouses” around the world. The company, named after a defunct French cycling team from the late 1950s, has stores as far afield as Seoul and Chicago.
Steuart Walton, co-founder of RZC, said: “Rapha represents the very best in the world of cycling. Our investment demonstrates our enthusiasm for its quality products, amazing community of cyclists and customers and its strong future. Rapha’s strategic vision has set the company on a path of tremendous growth and opportunity.”
The company, which employs 450 people, recorded sales of £63m last year, a 30% increase on the previous year, as it tapped demand for its high-end gear.
While Rapha may not be a household name, in the tribal cycling community it is seen as a “Marmite” brand, at the centre of fierce forum debates where detractors see it as the fiefdom of wealthy metrosexuals or the “Raphia”.
Its sells everything from £20 embrocation cream – which redirects blood back into your lower extremities by stimulating blood vessels – to bespoke holidays in the Alps. It even has its own riding club with 9,000 members paying £135 a year for perks including free coffee in its clubhouses.
“We are totally in love with the sport,” Mottram said in a recent Guardian interview. “We love the product and think the product should be as good as the sport. I care about how I look and perhaps that makes me a shallow person but why on a bike should you not?”
By Rupert Neate