Chain Reaction Cycles merger with Wiggle gets go ahead

Chain Reaction Cycles is headquartered in Ballyclare

THE merger of Ballyclare-based Chain Reaction Cycles and its British rival Wiggle has been given regulatory approval.

The Competition and Markets Authority has allowed the merger that will give the combined business revenues 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.

Both the Chain Reaction and Wiggle brands will be retained as will their websites.

The companies said the deal would see them "better placed to compete in the growing global online market for cycling, running, swimming and tri-sports products and accessories".

The corporate name of the newly formed group company will be WiggleCRC and it will be chaired by Brian McBride and managed by Stefan Barden, as chief executive officer.

Chris Watson, currently managing director of Chain Reaction Cycles, will sit on the board and will be a significant shareholder.

Mr Barden and Mr Watson said: “Together, Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles’ first class team of sports enthusiasts and strong heritage and expertise in cycling, running, swimming and tri-sports, will form the foundations for building a global champion.”

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 eight million visits a month and has more than two million registered users.

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

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


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