A private equity company has reportedly doubled its investment in upmarket cycle clothing business Le Col as the west London-based firm targets sponsorship of a UCI WorldTour team.
According to Telegraph.co.uk, Puma Private Equity, which last year invested £2.35 million into the business founded in 2011 by former pro cyclist Yanto Barker to help finance overseas expansion, has provided a further £2.5 million in backing.
The latest round of funding will also reportedly fund sponsorship of grassroots cycling by Le Col, which produces its clothing in its own factory in Italy.
The company’s profile has been raised in recent months through its collaboration with Sir Bradley Wiggins – whom Barker rode alongside as a junior – to develop for the Le Col by Wiggins range that was heavily featured in TV advertising during major races this year.
Le Col, which now exports to 60 countries worldwide, replaced Rapha as the kit sponsor for Team Wiggins ahead of the 2018 season.
This year, the UCI Continental team was known as Team Wiggins-Le Col, but in August it was announced that it would be closed down at the end of the season.
Le Col also provides kit for Storey Racing, Drops and Ribble Pro Racing, and provides the leaders’ jerseys for the Women’s Tour, the Tour of Britain, the Tour Series and the ASDA Women’s Tour de Yorkshire.
Previously, in 2016, Le Col raised £1 million in funding through the online investment platform, Crowdcube.
That same year Barker, who has also worked as a TV pundit, retired from racing to work full-time on developing the Le Col brand, with the ambition of making it the “best clothing apparel in the world.”
Speaking to BikeBiz in May this year, he outlined his future plans for the business.
“We are doing a good job in the UK, we’re still quite a UK centric brand, and so our global expansion steps will be things that come more and more into focus as we go through the next six to 18 months,” he said.
“We’ve got a number of different ways, and we’ve identified different territories to take the first step into that international expansion.
“My ultimate ambition is to have a brand that is globally recognised, and then have things like continued partnerships with big and respected brands.
“It’s about quality at every level. We want quality partnerships with quality ideas executed in a quality way, delivering quality products to a quality audience.
“That is 100 per cent what I’m about and what gets me up in the morning and ready to work hard every day.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.