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Walmart heirs buy Rapha in reported £200 million deal

Keen mountain bikers Steuart and Tom Watson win race for North London-based cycle clothing brand

An investment firm owned by two heirs to the Walmart fortune have bought a majority stake in upmarket cycle clothing firm Rapha in a deal that reportedly values the business at £200 million.

Steuart and Tom Walton’s firm, RZC Investments acquisition of a controlling stake in the North London-based company comes after several months of rumours that previous main investors, Active Partners, were looking to exit the business.

The brothers, both keen mountain bikers who have helped fund trails in Arkansas via the Walmart Family Foundation, are the grandsons of Sam Walton, who founded Walmart in the midwestern state in 1962.

Now the world’s biggest retailer with sales of $485 billion in 2016, it operates around 12,000 stores worldwide, including Asda in the UK, which it bought in 1999.

Rapha founder Simon Mottram will remain as chief executive and also retains what the company described in a press release as “a significant part of his stake in the business.”

He said: “This is an exciting day for Rapha. It heralds the start of the next stage of our journey and is testament to the growth and potential that people see in Rapha and in cycling.

“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.

“Support from RZC Investments will allow us to further expand our active global community of cyclists, develop even better and more innovative products and services to enhance cyclists’ lives and inspire many more people to take up the World’s greatest sport.”

Founded in 2004, Rapha now has 20 local websites worldwide selling clothing and accessories, 17 Clubhouses in cities around the globe, a growing cycling travel business and annual turnover of £63 million in its latest financial year.

With its new backers it plans further international expansion, including opening more Clubhouses and introducing more products and services, as well as growing its Rapha Cycling Club membership base.

Steuart Walton, who spent several years working as a lawyer in London for Allen & Overy, commented: “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. 

“We’re excited to be part of this next chapter by bringing the best sport in the world to more people in more ways and places,” he added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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