No this isn’t retail, this is corporate deal making. In more business news UK online retailer Wiggle could be up for sale with a price tag of 200 million pounds (€225m / $325m) according to one business blogger. That’s one very big shopping basket.
The British bike shop is well known to many cycling consumers in Europe and beyond as it is one of the largest internet retailers with sales in over 70 countries. Owned by financial backers Isis Partners, it’s been incredibly fast growing, with sales growth of around 100% a year for the past few years.
For sale sign
Now it appears the shop has appointed Rothschild, a British investment bank to conduct a “strategic review”. Now you don’t hire an investment bank to advise on managerial options, normally specialist management consultants get involved for this. Instead “strategic review” is a euphemism for a sale, in other words a stockmarket flotation or the sale of the business to new owners.
Sky TV’s business correspondent Mark Kleinman says:
“I’m told that there has already been strong interest in Wiggle from potential buyers, although any process to sell or float the company is unlikely to be completed until next year. The obvious potential acquirers would include the likes of Halfords, bankers tell me.”
Halfords is a British retailer of auto parts and bikes and distributes Boardman bikes, part-designed by Chris Boardman and used by the United Healthcare team. This combination it would result in a very large cycle-orientated retailer. Alternatively were it to float on the stockmarket it might be interesting to follow the business or, for some, interesting to own a few shares.
Regardless of the future, it’s an interesting bit of business because it helps put a value on the growth of many online retailers, several other internet-focussed bike shops will be watching this sale closely. The days of independent bike shops are not over but the cycle trade is like many others where a few players can dominate the market, certainly the sale of everything else from bread to cameras to cars is now via large players and small independent shops are increasingly rare. This is not without controversy.
Finally if the deal does happen, note that I suggested this was likely to happen last September.