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But will share certificates come with Haribo?

Fancy owning a part of Wiggle? The online retailer is considering a stockmarket flotation, which would move it from a privately-held company to one in which anyone could buy shares.

According to the Telegraph’s Ashley Armstrong, Wiggle’s owner, private equity firm Bridgepoint, is working with advisors from investment bank Rothschild on a potential initial public offering.

A Bridgepoint spokesman said no advisers had yet been mandated for an IPO, but Rothschild has been a longtime adviser to the company.

Then-owners Isis Partners were believed to have considered taking Wiggle public in 2011, but chose instead to sell the company to Bridgepoint in a deal that valued Wiggle at £180m.

But floating the companies it owns appears to be part of Bridgepoint’s business model. Another Bridgepoint holding, clothing retailer Fat Face is in the process of being floated with pricing expected to be set early this week that will value the store chain at around £440m.

Two sources familiar with the situation told the Telegraph that Wiggle was considering the flotation, with one adding it would be “mad not to” given the current multiples that are available in IPOs to companies with an online presence.

In March Wiggle advertised for a chief financial officer with an ad in which it said: “IPO experience would be an advantage.” The company played down speculation about a float, with a spokesman telling Financial News: "We would naturally look for IPO experience in our CFO in order to keep our options open."

Wiggle was founded in 1999 out of Portsmouth bike shop Butler Cycles by Mitch Dall and Harvey Jones. It grew rapidly on the back of the combination of the road cycling boom of the 2000s and the growth of internet mail order.

In 2006 Isis Partners and Wiggle management bought 42 percent of the company and injected £12.3m into it, supporting its growth by 2011 to revenues of £86m. Before tax, Wiggle made a profit of £12.3m on revenues of £140.7m for the year ending April 2013.

Dall sold his 26 percent stake in the company to Isis Partners and the management team in 2009, while Jones retired from active involvement in November of that year and six months later set off on a 55ft sailing yacht for a year-long voyage to the Arctic. Jones is now a trustee of environmental law firm ClientEarth while Dall’s last known venture was portable jetwasher maker MobiWasher.

Wiggle’s most significant online rival, Chain Reaction Cycles, also grew out of a bike shop, Ballynure Cycles in Northern Ireland, and also emerged as an online entity in 1999. The most recent available figures put Chain Reaction’s revenues at £155.6 million for 2012, with a profit of £861,000.

Chain Reaction is still owned by the family of Ballynure Cycles founders George and Janice Watson.

It's not yet known if Wiggle's IPO plans include sending out Haribo with dividend cheques.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

15 comments

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brackley88 [164 posts] 2 years ago
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Chu-ching!

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mrmo [2093 posts] 2 years ago
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would shareholders get a discount? I know some companies do offer such perks.

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Chuck [572 posts] 2 years ago
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That's a big difference in revenue vs profit between Wiggle and CRC.

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mrmo [2093 posts] 2 years ago
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Chuck wrote:

That's a big difference in revenue vs profit between Wiggle and CRC.

Look at what they sell, what I see is that wiggle sells current products at full price , where as CRC seems to be more interested in selling end of lines at large discounts.

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daviddb [134 posts] 2 years ago
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Perhaps this is why Wiggle seems to have been cutting a few corners of late.

Still think they offer an excellent service mind, and that dhb stuff is just teh right blend of quality and price.

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RobD [293 posts] 2 years ago
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I hope that their quality of service doesn't drop in a quest to squeeze margins, as much as I like to buy things from a real bricks and mortar bike shop, there are some items that they are hard to beat for, and considering the ease of getting things delivered during the week compared to waiting for the weekend to go to a shop I certainly have less guilt about buying from them than I did.

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 2 years ago
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There's plenty of online bike retailers. I for one refuse to spend any money with big business and haven't used Wiggle in years. They may be a little cheaper on certain stuff but my integrity is worth more.

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Chuck [572 posts] 2 years ago
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drfabulous0 wrote:

There's plenty of online bike retailers. I for one refuse to spend any money with big business and haven't used Wiggle in years. They may be a little cheaper on certain stuff but my integrity is worth more.

I'm inferring from this that you do use other online retailers*. I'm interested in how using those instead of Wiggle preserves your integrity?
Genuine question- I'm sorry if it sounds a bit rude but just wondering where the cutoff is for deciding not to use a particular company?

* Or I might have misunderstood!

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SJSBrompton [1 post] 2 years ago
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I stopped using Wiggle after two separate occasions of ordering something in the sale and then getting an email that they did not have the stock. Funnily enough they don't do that for full price items.

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jova54 [667 posts] 2 years ago
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Chuck wrote:

That's a big difference in revenue vs profit between Wiggle and CRC.

Wiggle would probably pay about £3M tax on their £12.3M profit leaving about £9.3M or about 7%

CRC, assuming the £861K is after tax, made 0.55% profit. I know that they had a massive spend around 2011/12 when they moved into new warehouses, but that appears an awfully small profit on a good turnover.

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 2 years ago
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Chuck wrote:
drfabulous0 wrote:

There's plenty of online bike retailers. I for one refuse to spend any money with big business and haven't used Wiggle in years. They may be a little cheaper on certain stuff but my integrity is worth more.

I'm inferring from this that you do use other online retailers*. I'm interested in how using those instead of Wiggle preserves your integrity?
Genuine question- I'm sorry if it sounds a bit rude but just wondering where the cutoff is for deciding not to use a particular company?

* Or I might have misunderstood!

I am just a bit of an anticapitalist hippy type and have a small business of my own. Where possible I prefer to avoid big companies and use smaller, more local ones. I don't use supermarkets or motor vehicles, I am not evangelical about it but choose for myself where to spend my money. I also spent many years involved in the crass commercialism of the bike trade and I don't like it.

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Chuck [572 posts] 2 years ago
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drfabulous0 wrote:
Chuck wrote:
drfabulous0 wrote:

There's plenty of online bike retailers. I for one refuse to spend any money with big business and haven't used Wiggle in years. They may be a little cheaper on certain stuff but my integrity is worth more.

I'm inferring from this that you do use other online retailers*. I'm interested in how using those instead of Wiggle preserves your integrity?
Genuine question- I'm sorry if it sounds a bit rude but just wondering where the cutoff is for deciding not to use a particular company?

* Or I might have misunderstood!

I am just a bit of an anticapitalist hippy type and have a small business of my own. Where possible I prefer to avoid big companies and use smaller, more local ones. I don't use supermarkets or motor vehicles, I am not evangelical about it but choose for myself where to spend my money. I also spent many years involved in the crass commercialism of the bike trade and I don't like it.

Fair enough.

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IanW1968 [280 posts] 2 years ago
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Wiggles a great business in a growing market, I'm in.

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hampstead_bandit [614 posts] 2 years ago
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"would shareholders get a discount? I know some companies do offer such perks."

@mrmo

I'm sure they would

my previous employer (a cycle retailer owned by a snow and run retailer) was owned by a venture capitalist firm, and it was shocking how many of their employees, associates, colleagues, friends and remote family members completely abused the discount that was available...

...whilst anyone working directly for my employer got f*ck all in return either from the employer or anyone associated with them

my employer was also hot on 0-hour contracts and minimum wages with no paid holiday, but that's another story...

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hallamhash [21 posts] 2 years ago
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Had enough of Wiggle. They seemingly never have anything in stock any more (even if it's listed as over 10+ available...) and their customer service has gone way downhill over the last 12 months.