Frasers Group, owner of some of the most familiar names on UK high streets, is reportedly mulling a bid for Wiggle, the online cycling, running and swimming retailer which entered administration this week.
Founded by Mike Ashley, who is still the controlling shareholder of the business which owns Sports Direct, House of Fraser and Evans Cycles, Sky News reports that the group is one of the front-runners to snap up Wiggle from administrators.
Earlier this month, Frasers Group swooped to buy the German retail chain SportScheck from Wiggle’s owners, Signa Sports United (SSU).
Commenting on that acquisition, Frasers Group CEO Michael Murray said: “Acquiring the leading sporting goods retailer in Germany is a big step in our journey to becoming the number one sports retailer in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) – and we are delighted to do this with the full support of major global brand partners, Adidas and Nike.”
SSU delisted its shares from the New York Stock Exchange a fortnight ago after parent company Signa Signa Holding, which is controlled by the Austrian billionaire René Benko, withdrew €150 of promised funding.
That also plunged Wiggle, which in turn was reliant on money from SSU to continue its normal operations, into crisis.
Besides owning Evans Cycles, Frasers Group bought the online cycling retailer ProBikeKit earlier this year.
As we pointed out last week, if the group were to buy Wiggle, it would have the opportunity to sell the online retailer’s established brands such as DHB in clothing through Evans’ stores.
Wiggle CRC’s established in-house brands such as DHB in clothing an established high street presence through Evans’ stores.
The two businesses, according to their latest annual reports and accounts, have around half the level of turnover in the UK cycling market as market leader Halfords (a combined figure of approximately £200 million versus perhaps £400 million), meaning that any potential deal would be likely to escape being blocked by the Competition & Markets Authority.
Administrators from one of the UK’s leading corporate advisory and restructuring firms were appointed to Wiggle on Wednesday.
“Wiggle CRC, the online sports retail group, is set to be put up for sale following the appointment of Joint Administrators,” they said in a statement issued yesterday.
“Alastair Massey and Tony Wright of specialist business advisory firm FRP were appointed to Mapil Midco 1 Limited and Wiggle Limited on 25th October 2023.
“A group of subsidiary companies that form the remainder of Wiggle CRC, including Chain Reaction Cycles Limited, Chain Reaction Cycles Retail Limited, and Hotlines Europe Limited, are expected to be placed into administration imminently,” the statement added.
“We’d like to reassure customers that all operations are running as normal, including the websites and online sales of Wiggle.com, ChainReactionCycles.com, and Hotlines-UK.com. Customer service support is live and can be contacted with any queries through the respective websites.”
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.