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Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group reportedly buys Wiggle Chain Reaction Cycles for less than £10 million

Frasers Group, which also owns Evans Cycles and Sports Direct, has agreed to purchase WiggleCRC’s brand and intellectual property, leading to around 450 job cuts

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has acquired Wiggle Chain Reaction Cycles’ brand and intellectual property in a deal believed to be worth less than £10 million, according to reports.

The deal for the online cycling retailer, first reported by road.cc last week, will see Frasers Group – now run by former Newcastle United owner Ashley’s son-in-law Michael Murray – add WiggleCRC to its existing cycling business, which includes Evans Cycles and ProBikeKit, according to the Times.

As also reported in February, the deal will result in all 447 of WiggleCRC’s employees losing their jobs, with a number taking to social media last week to confirm that their “time was up” at the company as the administrators “closed the shutters”.

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

It is believed that the purchase also includes Wiggle’s in-house brands, such as its Vitus and NukeProof bike ranges, dhb clothing, and Lifeline accessories.

According to the Times, Frasers was attracted to Wiggle’s strong social media and online presence, and believes the brand will aid the retail giant’s attempts to move its sports business, at the centre of which sits ubiquitous retailer Sports Direct, upmarket.

The deal also follows the trend for Frasers to purchase the brand and intellectual property of retailers on the brink of collapse at a heavy discount, while laying off all or almost all of the company’s staff in the process.

Last May, the retail empire 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, which itself was bought by retail entrepreneur Ashley in 2018 for £8 million in a similar move that saw over 300 staff members made redundant and the rest added to zero-hour contracts.

Wiggle Epic Winter Sale

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

Frasers’ purchase comes just four months after WiggleCRC 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, fellow online retailer Chain Reaction, and distributor Hotlines, and the company owing almost £27 million in debts to 400 creditors.

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 SSU reported “severe liquidity and profitability challenges” and delisted its shares.

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

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 included 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 initiated a swathe of job cuts at 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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12 comments

Avatar
Paul J | 4 months ago
1 like

I'm going to miss the DHB gear, especially the merino base layers. They need replacing every 2 to 3 years, as the wool will break down. Don't know where else to find good quality merino bases layers at reasonable prices.  2

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Steve K replied to Paul J | 4 months ago
0 likes

Paul J wrote:

I'm going to miss the DHB gear, especially the merino base layers. They need replacing every 2 to 3 years, as the wool will break down. Don't know where else to find good quality merino bases layers at reasonable prices.  2

I bought three (two long sleeve, one short) before the shutters came down.

Avatar
don simon fbpe | 4 months ago
1 like

A mug for every order?

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GMBasix replied to don simon fbpe | 4 months ago
1 like

don simon fbpe wrote:

A mug for every order?

A mug? I'll have you know those are valued customers!

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Global Nomad | 4 months ago
1 like

Mike Ashley....hardly known for his success at reviving broken retailers...just a collector of failing brands.

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Dnnnnnn replied to Global Nomad | 4 months ago
0 likes

The overall group seems to be doing well and its share price has hit record highs. It's a sprawling collection of brands though, and there are winners and losers - and it still seems very dependent on the Sports Direct element.
https://news.sky.com/story/mike-ashleys-heir-is-building-a-decent-track-...

Avatar
ubercurmudgeon | 4 months ago
14 likes

£10 million and not even a packet of Haribo to show for it? Just a couple of web sites that have flogged off almost all their stock, burned their relationships with suppliers, shitcanned their staff, and sunk their reputations with customers (not that being owned by Mike Ashley cannot sink it even further.) Brands like Vitus and dhb have some value, but does anyone seriously believe they won't be pale imitations of their former selves within six months?

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jaymack replied to ubercurmudgeon | 4 months ago
3 likes

Only a pale immitation; you're too kind.

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stonojnr replied to ubercurmudgeon | 4 months ago
0 likes

they already were a pale imitation of their former selves.

I think its surprising to compare the PBK deal at 8million to Wiggles 10million, meaning Wiggles value, presumably the Vitus & dhb brands with a bit of extra name recoginition for Wiggle/Chain Reaction, are only worth 2 million extra than PBK.

makes you wonder what exactly have they bought for 10million if theyve sacked everyone and will just reuse sports direct systems and warehousing.

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RDaneel replied to stonojnr | 4 months ago
1 like

What will happen to Vitus/DHB/Nukeproof/Lifeline/Fohn/Brand-X? Off the shelf rubbish and BSO's aplenty or something else? . None of the design, marketing or supply chain staff have been kept on and I'm not convinced Evans (Frasers group)  has the track record in this area, or have they? WigglesCRC's warehouse operations were pretty efficient and again having never ordered from Evans I can't compare but again will that service be maintained through the Frasers warehousing? 

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RoubaixCube replied to RDaneel | 4 months ago
0 likes

wasnt Prime also an in house wiggle brand?

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KDee replied to RoubaixCube | 4 months ago
0 likes

Indeed they were/are. I have a pair of their RR-38 v3 disc wheels. 

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