Wiggle rides over to Bridgepoint

Online cycling retailer Wiggle has been acquired by Bridgepoint in a £180 million deal that sees ISIS Equity Partners exit its five year investment in the business.

Online cycling retailer Wiggle has been acquired by Bridgepoint in a £180 million deal that sees ISIS Equity Partners exit its five year investment in the business.

Founded in 1999 by Harvey Jones and Mitch Dall, Portsmouth-headquartered Wiggle has a reported one million shopper visits a week to its online stores, generating 600,000 customer sales in the past year.

ISIS initially invested in the business in 2006, taking a 65 per cent stake, and led the business, two years later, into overseas markets. The move saw the cycle company increase its sales tenfold and profits rise to over £10 million.

Humphrey Cobbold, CEO of Wiggle, says the online retailer is now looking to grow further in a ‘fragmented marketplace’.

Cobbold adds: ‘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.'

Private equity firm Bridgepoint already has investments in fellow retailers Hobbycraft, which sells specialist craft goods, and high street clothing chain Fat Face.

In August GrowthBusiness learnt that an initial public offering (IPO) remained on the table for the retailer, with ISIS meeting potential bookrunners in September.

In October Cobbold was reported as saying that the IPO route was still on the table. However a cooling in the public markets has seen private equity buy the business.

Upon completion of the transaction Cobbold and management partner Andy Bond are to remain at the business and make a ‘significant personal investment’.

The UK cycle market was worth a reported £1.4 billion in 2010, with international markets estimated to be valued at £25 billion.

Bridgepoint partner, Vince Gwilliam, comments: ‘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 a strong track record of profitable organic growth.’