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Mike Ashley set to take over Wiggle Chain Reaction as administrators “close the shutters” amid mass redundancies, sources suggest

The latest job cuts at the beleaguered online giant mean that “almost everyone is gone”, former employees have posted online, as Evans Cycles owner Ashley prepares takeover

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group appears set to complete the takeover of Wiggle Chain Reaction, road.cc understands, amid claims from former employees that the beleaguered online retailer’s administrators have “closed the shutters”, as reports of another wave of mass redundancies appear to have affected almost everyone within the company.

In October, Wiggle CRC entered administration and was put up for sale in the wake of the financial crisis that engulfed its Berlin-based parent company Signa Sports United (SSU), resulting in 105 jobs being cut at Wiggle, Chain Reaction, and distributor Hotlines as the brand’s joint administrators prepared for the business for sale amid “interest from several parties”.

> WiggleCRC owed Haribo £20,000, plus millions of pounds to other cycling brands, administrator's proposal document reveals

And now, as reports emerge that almost all of Wiggle CRC’s remaining staff have lost their jobs, Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group – which owns fellow online cycling retailers Evans Cycles and ProBikeKit – appears set to complete its purchase of the company, sources have told road.cc.

road.cc understands that Frasers Group’s purchase of Wiggle CRC is the likely catalyst for this latest wave of job cuts, with several employees appearing to confirm the news on LinkedIn, with one now former staff member writing that the “administrators have closed the shutters”.

“Unfortunately, my time is up, along with everyone else within the organisation,” one employee posted on the website, while another wrote: “After almost having made it to 10 years at Chain Reaction Cycles and then WiggleCRC, it’s now time to say goodbye… Very sad day saying goodbye to colleagues and the business as a whole.”

> Chain Reaction Cycles announces closing of flagship Belfast store

A spokesperson for Wiggle CRC’s administrators declined to comment when approached by road.cc, and it remains to be seen how Frasers Group’s purchase will affect the company’s status, including its future relationship with potential fellow subsidiary and online retailer Evans, and that of its in-house brands like Vitus and NukeProof.

Last May, former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group bought the stock and intellectual property assets of online retailer ProBikeKit (PBK), which had previously shut down its lifestyle division citing “lossmaking”.

The acquisition of PBK was also handled through Frasers’ Evans Cycles subsidiary, bought by retail entrepreneur Ashley in 2018.

> “You have to dig in for the next three to five years”: What lies ahead for a struggling bike industry in 2024?

After recording a pre-tax loss of over £97 million in 2022, alarm bells began to ring concerning the future of Wiggle Chain Reaction last autumn, after parent company Signa Sports United (SSU) reported “severe liquidity and profitability challenges” and delisted its shares.

As a result, SSU’s €150 million funding commitment from its own parent company, Signa Holding, was withdrawn, ushering in an increasingly gloomy outlook for Wiggle and the group’s other cycling businesses, which include Bikester, Probikeshop, and Farrhad.de.

Soon after, as SSU filed for insolvency, Wiggle’s seemingly inevitable plunge into administration was confirmed, as its joint administrators put the company up for sale and cut 105 jobs by the start of November.

Administrators reported “considerable interest” for the business from potential buyers, among them Ashley’s Frasers Group, and in December said they remained “optimistic” over the possibility of a sale amid “considerable trading profit”.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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61 comments

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Bigtwin | 4 months ago
0 likes

That's that riuned then.  Absolutely horrible man who trashes everything he touches.

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hawkinspeter replied to Bigtwin | 4 months ago
0 likes

Bigtwin wrote:

That's that riuned then.  Absolutely horrible man who trashes everything he touches.

That's a shame - I liked their Prime products.

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SecretSam | 4 months ago
7 likes

Well, that's Wiggle and CRC ruined, then

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stonojnr replied to SecretSam | 4 months ago
1 like

Because theyd been so great lately ? They haven't been the goto cycling online shop for awhile for alot of people, kind of why theyve ended up in this predicament.

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ktache replied to stonojnr | 4 months ago
0 likes

I don't think I've gotten anything from either of them from many years, they never seem to pop up when I search for the stuff I need.

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PRSboy | 4 months ago
5 likes

Cherish your local bike shop.  I heard the other day that my local shop, which has been operating for over 10 yrs, is closing at the month end which is a real shame.

i feel very sorry for the staff affected at Wiggle CRC, but the world will be a better place without these companies that have sucked the life out of the industry. 

Hopefully the local shop network can recover when the dust settles.

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SecretSam replied to PRSboy | 4 months ago
5 likes

I think there's a place for LBS' and Wiggle, CRC, etc. The LBS' simply needed to move with the market. My (crap) LBS didn't...and died. Another LBS set up to focus on maintenance and advice, and is snowed under. People always need a mechanic.

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stonojnr replied to PRSboy | 4 months ago
2 likes

Why ? the only reason I ever used Wiggle in the first place is because my LBS's don't sell the parts or items I want, it's not even about price, they're stuck in their pre Internet mindset that you have to buy what they sell because you don't have a choice.

Literally just bought two bottle cages online for a bike, I also bought online, because none of my LBSs stock it

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BadgerBeaver | 4 months ago
4 likes

If you don't want to put money in the pocket of that horrible sack of sh1t, who turns gold into dust, where else to shop online? Asking for a friend.

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Hirsute replied to BadgerBeaver | 4 months ago
6 likes

SJS cycles are good but no clothing (ok 7 items ! ).

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PRSboy replied to BadgerBeaver | 4 months ago
8 likes

Sigma Sports are very good.  Proper staff, good advice and its an actual shop with a very good online function.

I was also impressed by Spa Cycles when I ordered an Ambrosio cassette from them.  Again, a proper shop.

Tweeks Cycles is part of Demon Tweeks, a privately owned company based in Wrexham.

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stonojnr replied to PRSboy | 4 months ago
1 like

Demon Tweeks as in motorsport accessories Demon Tweeks ? Tbf that makes alot of sense for them, they've got the systems, warehousing and know how to shift stuff in boxes for orders.

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Timboz3000 replied to stonojnr | 4 months ago
0 likes

One and the same! I initially got very confused when I ordered from Tweeks and was invoiced by Demon Tweeks!!

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Barraob1 replied to BadgerBeaver | 4 months ago
4 likes

Galibier.cc for clothing, Merlin for parts etc

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a1white replied to Barraob1 | 4 months ago
0 likes

Yes, Merlin are good and Tweeks, Tredz. Galibier clothing really is excellent in my experience

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SecretSam replied to BadgerBeaver | 4 months ago
3 likes

BadgerBeaver wrote:

If you don't want to put money in the pocket of that horrible sack of sh1t, who turns gold into dust, where else to shop online? Asking for a friend.

As others have said, SJS, Spa, Sigma, all good

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BadgerBeaver replied to SecretSam | 4 months ago
1 like

Thanks folks, adjusting bookmarks....

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levestane replied to BadgerBeaver | 4 months ago
2 likes

High on Bikes, Sprockets, Chicken Cyclekit, Edinburgh Bike Coop and others have all been good for me. 

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LastBoyScout replied to levestane | 4 months ago
1 like

AllTerrainCycles in Yorkshire were very good when I ordered a new kids bike and some bits last year.

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lycralout replied to BadgerBeaver | 4 months ago
2 likes

a couple more work a look see.
Fawkes Cycles, bought from once or twice.
Total Cycling in Derry, bought a few EOL Campag stuff on sale in past.
Merlin Cycles

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David9694 replied to BadgerBeaver | 4 months ago
0 likes

Hopkinson Cycles on EBay mainly for non flashy items and parts for repair cafe jobs. 

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Patrick9-32 | 4 months ago
4 likes

Big brand comes along and uses aggressive sales techniques to makes things hard for small shops until they sell, buys up the small shops and brands, merges with other big brands until they control a significant portion of the market. Falls on hard times and shuts down leaving consumers with no options at all. This is happening with multiple industries right now but its rampant in the bike industry.

Capitalism: "Everything is working as intended. Do not stop consuming. DO NOT STOP CONSUMING!!"

 

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aitorbk replied to Patrick9-32 | 4 months ago
4 likes

Well, Shimano, Sram and others are in great part guilty of this.
They sell full groupsets for less that we pay retail for a derailleur and chain to these behemoths, as long as they are for new bikes.
This makes the LBS uncompetitive, and we end up all buying big box bikes, DTC, etc.

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SaddleSoreTight... replied to aitorbk | 4 months ago
1 like

Great point. The bike industry has gone crazy over the last few years. Bike prices and components have skyrocketed as if suddenly everyone is making 3x the money they made before the pandemic.
3 years ago I bought a full carbon Giant Defy for less than £3K brand new and that was a stretch at the time. Now the same bike is £6K with less kit on.
Same thing happened to clothes and components. Just stick bike on the title and you can charge double.
LBS suffer from lack of bulk buying power which means they get squeezed and customers have to resort to big names but it doesn't have to be this way.
Maybe we need this realignment in the industry to normalise prices all the way across the supply chain to what resembles reality and allow consumers
to start spending again.

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Surreyrider replied to Patrick9-32 | 4 months ago
5 likes

Err...there's Merlin, Winstanley, Sigma, Tredz etc. Definitely more than "no options at all".

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LastBoyScout replied to Surreyrider | 4 months ago
1 like

The last "big" order of stuff I put in was to Bike.de for a load of consumable parts. Got it shipped to my mate's house near Stuttgart and waited for him to bring it over on his next trip to UK.

Have just put an order into Wiggle to use up my gift voucher, so fingers crossed...

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LastBoyScout replied to LastBoyScout | 4 months ago
0 likes

Got an email saying it's been despatched, so that's good.

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mark1a replied to Surreyrider | 4 months ago
0 likes

Surreyrider wrote:

Err...there's Merlin, Winstanley, Sigma, Tredz etc. Definitely more than "no options at all".

Yes, and from my own experience, Merlin. Sigma & Tredz have been excellent (I'm sure Winstanley are too, but no experience myself).

I've received a couple of orders recently from BikeInn in Spain, there's a huge range of stuff very competitively priced, and crucially, for UK customers, the price shown & paid is the final price inclusive of VAT, duty, etc. The delivery can take up to a week, but if there's no hurry and it's something that's either more expensive or not available from the usual UK sites. Impressed so far with what I've had. 

To answer the question "why don't you use your LBS?", the answer is, the two best decent bike shops nearest to me are each 30 miles away, in both directions, so difficult to justify going there for a couple of tubes and a chain. The ones in my town are mostly either shite and still open or shite and have closed. The remaining one that isn't shite is 90% servicing/advice, the remainder accessories. I do use that in the spirit of "use it or lose it" for work that I either can't or don't want to do, or needs a tool that it's not worth me buying. An example being my winter bike brakes needed bleeding, I could have bought the kit, watched a few videos, and had a go. However for the sake of an hour out and £25, I got the LBS to do it. For more routine servicing & fettling, I got fed up with waiting a week or more to be booked in (with the previously mentioned now closed places), so I made a workshop in my garage, did a Cytech course, and now mostly do it myself. 

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quiff replied to Surreyrider | 4 months ago
0 likes

Tredz might not be Mike Ashley, but it is Halfords owned. 

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PRSboy replied to Patrick9-32 | 4 months ago
1 like

And don't forget how they exploit regional tax differences to undercut local retailers.

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