Wiggle, the leading online cycling and tri-sports retailer, has been acquired by European private equity firm Bridgepoint in a transaction totalling £180 million.
Portsmouth-based Wiggle was founded in 1999 initially to sell cycling accessories but by 2003 had expanded its offer to include running and swimming goods. ISIS invested in the business in 2006, and today it the UK's leading online retailer for enthusiastic road cyclists and triathletes, and truly global in its offering. It has over 1 million shopper visits a week to its online stores and over 600,000 customers shopped with Wiggle in the last 12 months.
Wiggle has grown strongly with sales and EBITDA growth in the last 3 years of 50% per annum. Wiggle's management, led by Andy Bond and Humphrey Cobbold, will remain with the business and will make significant personal investment in the business as part of the deal.
Wiggle has continued to grow strongly in 2011 and to develop its customer offering and reach. Its website is translated into nine languages, accepts sales in 15 different currencies, and is accessible to 88 countries digitally across the globe, to over half of the world's population. Furthermore, with a well established 'social commerce' store on Facebook and mobile sites available in nine languages, it is one of the most advanced and accessible online retail businesses in the world.
According to Wiggle CEO Humphrey Cobbold, the company is already a powerful partner to a number of international brands and is now seeking to grow further in a fragmented marketplace.
"We are delighted to have a new partner and owner in Bridgepoint, and would like to thank ISIS for being a fantastic supporter of Wiggle, its 200 colleagues, suppliers and brands over the past five years. Their investment and involvement has transformed Wiggle into a truly global retail business with best in class execution.
"Bridgepoint is highly experienced and successful in investing in growing retail and consumer businesses, and has an extensive international network which matches Wiggle's international strategy and growth aspirations, and will be a significant benefit to continuing the strong growth.
"Wiggle could not have achieved this growth without the phenomenal commitment and enthusiasm of everyone of our colleagues, and we look forward to working alongside them as we develop the business the next exciting phase of channel and international expansion."
Bridgepoint partner Vince Gwilliam added: "Wiggle is benefitting from strong structural market drivers such as the shift to online retailing combined with the trend towards fitness and health living and the increasing popularity of cycling as a pastime. In addition, it has had a strong track record of profitable organic growth."
The UK cycling market was worth £1.4 billion in 2010 and has grown rapidly in the last five years; international markets were estimated to be worth over £25 billion in 2010. The value of adjacent product categories (i.e. running and swimming) was over £10 billion.
Senior debt for the transaction was provided by HSBC and Investec. Advisers involved in this transaction included: for Bridgepoint - Nomura (corporate finance), Javelin (market due diligence), Clifford Chance (legal), KPMG (financial due diligence); for Isis Equity Partners - Rothschild (corporate finance), Eversheds (legal); for management - Eversheds (legal), Jamieson Corporate Finance (financial), PWC (tax).
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