Business

Chain Reaction Cycles confirms Wiggle merger

Chain Reaction Cycles has grown to be the largest online bike shop in the world

BALLYCLARE-based retailer Chain Reaction Cycles has confirmed it is to merge with British rival Wiggle.

The move, which would be subject to scrutiny by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), will create a business with turnover in excess of £300 million.

Chain Reaction Cycles is the world's largest online bike shop while Wiggle specialises in cycling, running, swimming and triathlon products and accessories.

News of the merger follows speculation Wiggle was preparing to acquire Chain Reaction Cycles.

Chain Reaction Cycles managing director Chris Watson described is as "an exciting new chapter" for the company.

"Since the business started in 1984, we've grown strongly from our mountain bike origins in Northern Ireland to meet the needs of more MTB, BMX and road cyclists across more countries. Coming together with Wiggle is a great way to continue that growth, as a global force in cycling and a leader in technology, eCommerce and innovation," he said.

Chain Reaction Cycles started as Ballynure Cycles in 1984 by George and Janice Watson with a bank loan of £1,500.

Within five years, they rebranded the firm Chain Reaction Cycles and in 1998 changed the focus to mail order.

The online offering was launched in 2000 and after significant growth, the firm opened its own 50,000 sq ft warehouse in 2005 and followed this up with a 10,000 sq ft flagship retail premises in Belfast in 2011.

Almost half of its sales are outside Europe, with Australia and the US key export markets.

It sells 20,000 items daily to more than 160 countries.

The company's website receives more than 8 million visits a month and has more than two million registered users.

Most recent annual accounts for the company showed profits of £3.77 million in 2014 off sales of £153.37m.

It now employs 612 people making it one of Northern Ireland's largest indigenous businesses.

Wiggle CEO Stefan Barden said there was "a compelling industrial logic for our two businesses to come together to become a stronger force".

"We have long respected Chain Reaction Cycles as a business and share its values and commitment to delivering the best possible price and first class service for its customers. Like us they have a deep seated love of cycling," he said.

"The combined business will offer all customers an extended range of brands and products, with Wiggle's strength in tri-sports and road cycling complemented by Chain Reaction Cycles' strength in mountain biking, BMX and road cycling too.

"The deal propels Wiggle faster towards its objective of building a global online champion and a major British export success story.”

Wiggle was founded in 1999 as a sister firm to Portsmouth bike shop Butlers Cycles.

It has expanded rapidly in recent years and his headquartered in modern offices in Portsmouth.

Last year, the firm moved its main warehouse premises to a new 323,000 sq ft site in Wolverhampton.

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