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Wiggle and Chain Reaction websites shut, with all remaining orders to be “fulfilled within 7-10 days”

One customer managed to bag 15 cycle computers at 99p each before Wiggle and Chain Reaction’s sites were replaced by holding pages yesterday, with all remaining stock and assets set to be sold by Friday

After months of turbulence and gloom, the end appears to be nigh for Wiggle Chain Reaction Cycles, as the online retailer’s websites – the scene of extremely heavy discounting in recent weeks – have disappeared, replaced by holding messages and a promise to fulfil all remaining orders within seven to ten days.

The websites’ shuttering follows Wiggle CRC’s parent company Mapil Topco Limited’s appointment of a liquidator last week, and the company’s decision to instigate a sales process for all residual stock and assets in its Citadel warehouse.

Both Wiggle and Chain Reaction’s online stores have now been replaced by a holding page, similar to those used when the company’s websites were stricken with problems in the wake of a major, highly criticised rebrand last April.

Chain Reaction website down

While Wiggle’s site now declares, “We’ll be back soon. A new Wiggle is coming. LETS GO!”, Chain Reaction’s page advises customers now unable to buy any products to “check back for something awesome”.

Both sites, meanwhile, have issued a statement announcing that “all remaining orders will be fulfilled within 7-10 days. Please bear with us as we process these orders. Contact the customer services team at help [at] wiggle.com.”

The final weeks of Wiggle CRC’s websites, along with its online outlets, saw items heavily reduced, with one road.cc reader managing to bag 15 3T Eye cycle computers – which retailed at £94.99 when first released in 2016 – for 99p each.

Reader buys 15 bike computers for 99p each from Wiggle

“They’ve clearly been down the back of a cabinet for eight years because they didn’t sell,” the reader told us. “They put them up for 99p each and I bought some to put in the ‘favour’ bags at my club’s annual meet.”

> Final clear out as Wiggle Chain Reaction Cycles invites bids for remaining warehouse stock

Last week, we reported that an email sent to road.cc revealed that “Wiggle Ltd (in administration) is beginning a sales process for the residual stock in the Citadel warehouse”, the 323,000 square foot facility in Bilston, near Wolverhampton, which the retailer moved to in 2015.

“It is understood that best and final offers on the stock and assets of the business are expected by 22nd [March],” the email continued.

Wiggle Ltd had also been auctioning off its remaining stock, from Vitus ZX-1 road bikes and disc wheels to components and clothing, on its TriSportsResort eBay page, where 59 items remain available as of Wednesday morning.

> Wiggle Chain Reaction parent company appoints liquidators

The demise of Wiggle and Chain Reaction’s website – at least temporarily and in their current guise – comes a week after an update posted on Mapil Topco Limited’s Companies House page stated that Anthony Wright and Alastair Massey of FRP Advisory have been appointed as liquidators.

At the start of the month, we first reported the news that Wiggle Chain Reaction’s brand and intellectual property was to be sold to Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, which also owns Evans Cycles and Sports Direct, in a deal believed to be worth less than £10 million.

Rumours had been circulating about the deal for some time, with all 447 of WiggleCRC’s employees being laid off in February as the administrators “closed the shutters”, with Frasers Group – now run by Ashley’s son-in-law Michael Murray – believed to have purchased some of Wiggle’s in-house brands, such as Vitus, Nukeproof, dhb, and Lifeline.

Wiggle and Chain Reaction logos

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

The saga began in the autumn, with WiggleCRC entering administration and being put up for sale following a 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.

SSU’s crisis was prompted by its own parent company, Signa Holding, removing a €150 million funding commitment, plunging Wiggle and other cycling businesses such as Bikester, Probikeshop, and Farrhad.de into uncertainty.

SSU then filed for insolvency, ushering in administration and months of decline and redundancies for Wiggle and Chain Reaction, despite persistent claims from management that they were “optimistic” of a sale.

Wiggle Epic Winter Sale

> "The assumption was Wiggle Chain Reaction wasn't going anywhere": Ex-employee talks "shock" at retail giant's demise on the road.cc Podcast

On the latest episode of the road.cc Podcast, we heard from a former employee who spoke of staff’s “shock” at the retail giant’s demise.

“Everyone was convinced, this is it, we are one of the biggest bike retailers about. We’re about to go massive in America, then it was like ‘Oh, this might not be plain sailing, this is not good’,” the ex-employee, who worked for one of WiggleCRC’s in-house brands, told us of his response to the withdrawal of the funding commitment.

“But I don’t think anyone thought this was going to close the company. Suddenly the bubble burst, and you’ve got a train you've geared up to full speed, and you’re driving it flat out, then suddenly someone tells you you've run out of track. It was chaos, and you saw everyone hitting that. And I think the £150m combined with that – even with the £150m, there's no guarantee we would have survived. Maybe it got too big.”

2024 Vitus Venon Evo GR - 1

> It's our Bike of the Year but should you buy the Vitus Venon EVO-RS Force AXS All-Road bike at 30% discount?

The former employee said the “random” job cuts seemed “brutally handled”, with administration meaning staff members did not receive their minimum notice period either.

“So they went from ‘I have to get this report in by one o’clock’ to ‘sorry’. And fifteen minutes later they’re sitting in a car in the car park going ‘what has just happened?’,” he said.

“Everybody believed this was going to work. We were too successful, we make too much money, we were too good at this. It’s not like there was another competitor in the same market in the UK. You might be one of the unlucky ones who got cut, but the assumption was: Wiggle Chain Reaction wasn’t going anywhere.”

The ex-employee also claimed that staff were told that the company was likely to be sold to a private equity firm, and that management even insisted in meetings: “Don't worry, Mike Ashley is not buying us”.

“Even when we closed, there was no talk about Frasers Group, about Mike Ashley,” he recalled. “We found out through media outlets, which is wild.

“Right until the very end, there was the assumption someone was going to buy us. Because you can run a brand with ten people. And the idea that someone would surely love Vitus, NukeProof, dhb, one of these, surely someone would want to keep a few humans and those brands. But the fact everyone was let go means that those brands are gone.”

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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29 comments

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MattKelland | 2 months ago
3 likes

They've already screwed it up by leaving the apostrophe out of "LETS GO." It can only get worse from here.

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levestane replied to MattKelland | 2 months ago
4 likes

... or maybe the S shouldn't be there.

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mark1a replied to MattKelland | 2 months ago
1 like

MattKelland wrote:

They've already screwed it up by leaving the apostrophe out of "LETS GO." It can only get worse from here.

If only that was the one thing that could be criticised about the rebrand...

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henryb | 2 months ago
2 likes

I'll miss Wiggle (particularly pre-rebrand Wiggle). It's a small consolation now that my Wiggle-branded waterbottles look cool and retro...

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shutuplegz | 2 months ago
4 likes

I dunno how they managed it but an order I placed late Thursday night (i.e. Friday) still arrived next day on Saturday and my final (? who knows ?) order placed late Monday night (i.e. Tuesday) still arrived today, Wednesday. As others have said, WiggleCRC are/were by no means 'perfect', weren't always the cheapest and there are plenty of other bike shops and online retailers out there (I often use SJS, Merlin, Sigma plus plenty of other 'smaller' ones) but I will miss Wiggle for the delivery speed, ease of returns and also for their in-house brands like Prime, Lifeline and especially DHB. I have bought lots of DHB stuff over the years and the quality and fit improved rapidly as time went on. It got to the point that I could reliably buy DHB kit and the sizing and fit would would be consistent from one year to the next so I could rely on the sizing charts even down to the 'performance' ranges being just a little more snug than the 'regular' stuff. I have some DHB kit like Flashlight bibs/longs that I bought years ago (maybe 10 years?) and have been used (and washed) weekly ever since, for commuting, and they are still almost as good as new, with only the tiniest hint of the reflective panels starting to peel at the edges. Similarly priced kit from the likes of Aldi/Lidl and Decathlon would be junk after a couple of seasons. I always used to be a bit snobbish about DHB kit and 'only' use it for commuting, but in reality that was where I did by far the most miles so in the end I started buying their 'performance' stuff for my weekend rides too and have never regretted it. Admittedly the prices of the performance ranges did creep up a bit, but so did the 'big name' competition, just more so. Most of the time though, I managed to pick stuff up in various sales, especially being a size S or XS male! With the latest wording on the Wiggle and CRC sites it does make you wonder if they will be re-established at some point?

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don simon fbpe | 2 months ago
0 likes

Where can I go now to get cheap parts that offer no mark up for the seller and drive LBSs in to the ground? ( I won't even start on LBSs that refuse to fit the bloody cheap as chips parts because of insurance shite! What is the world coming to?).

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hawkinspeter replied to don simon fbpe | 2 months ago
1 like

don simon fbpe wrote:

Where can I go now to get cheap parts that offer no mark up for the seller and drive LBSs in to the ground? ( I won't even start on LBSs that refuse to fit the bloody cheap as chips parts because of insurance shite! What is the world coming to?).

One problem I found with LBSs is when they can't seem to make bike part orders each day. That means a wait of around a week, when I could just order the part myself for next day delivery - cheaper and quicker.

I don't see the issue with an LBS fitting a customer-bought part (as long as you ask if they're happy with that) - they charge for labour and if necessary can add on a bit to offset their lack of profit on the part itself. However, I do most of my own part fitting/replacing so it's not as though the LBS is relying on my money to get by.

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don simon fbpe replied to hawkinspeter | 2 months ago
0 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

don simon fbpe wrote:

Where can I go now to get cheap parts that offer no mark up for the seller and drive LBSs in to the ground? ( I won't even start on LBSs that refuse to fit the bloody cheap as chips parts because of insurance shite! What is the world coming to?).

One problem I found with LBSs is when they can't seem to make bike part orders each day. That means a wait of around a week, when I could just order the part myself for next day delivery - cheaper and quicker.

I don't see the issue with an LBS fitting a customer-bought part (as long as you ask if they're happy with that) - they charge for labour and if necessary can add on a bit to offset their lack of profit on the part itself. However, I do most of my own part fitting/replacing so it's not as though the LBS is relying on my money to get by.

Who do you go to if the part fails (and failure might be down to poor installation or poor quality part)? Who's going to hold the warranty?

I think I'd rather wait a week and have good rapport with my LBS, I'm still good friends with the owner of a shop I used in Spain and had a good relationship with LBS in Caer before they were squeezed out by Evans (whose knowledge is shite). I appreciate that not everyone gets lucky and has a decent LBS, I guess I have. My first LBS experience was dealing with Alf of Alf Jones fame.

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hawkinspeter replied to don simon fbpe | 2 months ago
1 like

don simon fbpe wrote:

Who do you go to if the part fails (and failure might be down to poor installation or poor quality part)? Who's going to hold the warranty?

I think I'd rather wait a week and have good rapport with my LBS, I'm still good friends with the owner of a shop I used in Spain and had a good relationship with LBS in Caer before they were squeezed out by Evans (whose knowledge is shite). I appreciate that not everyone gets lucky and has a decent LBS, I guess I have. My first LBS experience was dealing with Alf of Alf Jones fame.

Well, I went to Shimano when my Ultegra crank snapped, but they weren't any use and it was outside of the warranty period anyhow.

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don simon fbpe replied to hawkinspeter | 2 months ago
0 likes

I'd be surprised if Shimano, multi million £ recalls aside, would want to get involved in individual warranty cases. The legal position being retailer first for that sort of thing. As a retailer, I'd be looking to put a bit of distance in between myself and liability.

Here's the value of the LBS, said Spanish shop owner replaced an out of warranty X.0 shifter for me. Because we were mates and I had put a fair bit of business his way, he decided to twist the arm of the SRAM rep who supplied a new shifter free of charge. €100+ saved.

 

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RoubaixCube replied to don simon fbpe | 2 months ago
10 likes

Dont know about markup but SJS Cycles have been absolutely phenomenal. The range of things they stock from the tiniest things like jockey wheel screws, bolts, washers and worm gears to rebuild your shifters to super obscure things for groupsets that have been out of production maybe as long as 10-15 years. THEY WILL HAVE IT and if they dont. Call them and ask, Maybe they will know where to source whatever you need.

SJS are like the aladdins cave of bike stuff. They dont get enough publicity or credit for their service to the bike community. 

Im sure a lot of LBS probably source parts from them as well since they have such a huge range.

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chrisonabike replied to RoubaixCube | 2 months ago
4 likes

+1 for SJS, excellent service, good general stock and particularly good for the more "utility" / "not just racing" end of things.

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Dnnnnnn replied to chrisonabike | 2 months ago
2 likes

chrisonabike wrote:

+1 for SJS

+2 for SJS.

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Supers79 replied to don simon fbpe | 2 months ago
2 likes

I've found that local bike shops stick with certain brands of parts and won't order other brands, for example I broke a Tektro brake lever on my MTB, one shop only fitted Clarks and the other Shimano; so sites like Wiggle are really useful. 

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ooblyboo replied to don simon fbpe | 2 months ago
0 likes

I bought parts for my LBS to fit during the pandemic when they didn't have the parts needed to sort my bike out. I sometimes still do, especially if it is something they aren't going to have in stock like a chainring for a TT bike.

That said, I left them to fit parts needed for my summer bike for its service last month and it ended up being over £350...

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Grumpy17 | 2 months ago
3 likes

Evans cycles has become a disaster since it was taken over.

Customer service,stock levels,prices all changed  from being decent to pitifully bad. I have only shopped once at Evan's cycles since then and won't be repeating that mistake.

So whatever reincarnation of wiggle or chain reaction we see, I won't be shopping at either of those places in the future and would discourage others from doing so too. 

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Steve K replied to Grumpy17 | 2 months ago
0 likes

Grumpy17 wrote:

Evans cycles has become a disaster since it was taken over.

Customer service,stock levels,prices all changed  from being decent to pitifully bad. I have only shopped once at Evan's cycles since then and won't be repeating that mistake.

So whatever reincarnation of wiggle or chain reaction we see, I won't be shopping at either of those places in the future and would discourage others from doing so too. 

I got a very cheap fabric saddle from Evans (it was about a quarter of rrp) - but I wouldn't go out of my way to shop there.

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stonojnr replied to Grumpy17 | 2 months ago
1 like

at least youve still got an Evans, they turned our local one into a drive thru McDonalds.

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Steve K | 2 months ago
2 likes

One of the best things Wiggle did - 10 years or more ago - was a collaboration with Ted Baker to produce a range of casual clothes designed for life on and off the bike.  I've still got some of the gear going strong, and I always hoped that they might repeat it.

I raise this now as, as well as the demise of Wiggle, Ted Baker have gone into administration.

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cdamian | 2 months ago
5 likes

Wiggle had their problems, but I'll still miss them.
I think I started to order from their site in 2011 and on CRC in 2007.
I spent so much money with them that I'm surprised they run out of money  1
It got less with Brexit and I gave up after the redesign and loss of my wishlist.

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Cyclo1964 replied to cdamian | 2 months ago
1 like

I was pretty much shopping with Wiggle right from the very early days of online shopping. I moved to Australia in 2006 and I got back into cycling etc. in 2008 and I was ordering stuff from wiggle to Aus far cheaper than I could buy in Aus and often I would get it within a week , even if the cost when over $1000 and I had to pay 10% GST ( VAT) it was still cheaper! The likes of Wiggle etc. had a real dramatic effect on pricing in Australia as local suppliers had the market stitched up and were basically charging RRP and more if they could get away with it, also at the time websites in Australia were diabolical about 5 years behind the UK . I spoke with a guy who ran a bike shop there and he said it was going to happen eventually as they as retailers had it too good for too long and he could see it on the horizon. Same went for running shoes etc. and most sports equipment.

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brooksby | 2 months ago
1 like

So many companies now seem to be bought by private equity investors, then go bust shortly thereafter (and in many cases their names/IP then get bought by Ashley).

At this rate, will there be anywhere left for us to - you know - "buy stuff"?

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Rich_cb replied to brooksby | 2 months ago
1 like

The end of over a decade of ultra low interest rates will do that.

Ashley has a business that generates a cash profit so is in pole position to mop up the leftovers.

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brooksby replied to Rich_cb | 2 months ago
1 like

How many zombie brands / zombie shopfronts does he have to own on the High Street before it draws the attention of what used to be called the Monopolies and Mergers Commission?

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Rich_cb replied to brooksby | 2 months ago
1 like

I thinks he's probably quite some way from that especially as his brands are spread across quite a few different markets.

I'm still not entirely sure what his long term plan is though? No idea what benefit owning lots of defunct brands brings?

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dodgy | 2 months ago
1 like

Looking forward to practically disposable 'mashley' shorts from the new brand.

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Surreyrider replied to dodgy | 2 months ago
2 likes

Exactly, although "looking forward" isn't how I'd put it. The most disappointing thing is the DHB brand, which provided decent kit at decent prices (I have quite a lot if it!), is no more as I can't see Mike Ashley continuing it. And that also means DHB suppliers are going to have a big hole in their revenue.

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super_davo replied to Surreyrider | 2 months ago
1 like

Surreyrider wrote:

Exactly, although "looking forward" isn't how I'd put it. The most disappointing thing is the DHB brand, which provided decent kit at decent prices (I have quite a lot if it!), is no more as I can't see Mike Ashley continuing it. And that also means DHB suppliers are going to have a big hole in their revenue.

Wiggle CRCs own brands were the thing that really made it stand out for me. Obviously DHB but I also have loads of Prime, Lifeline and Fohn stuff.

Given HoF have basically just bought the brand names and left everything else behind, you do wonder if someone could get some backing and sweep up the staff and the suppliers and go again (with or without the DHB name). There are obviously loads of clothing brands out there, but I can't think of anyone that does the formula of good fabrics in simple designs well executed at sensible prices as well as DHB.

I still maintain that at its core, WiggleCRC was a good business; the PE takeover is what killed it, more so even than the rebrand/new website. 

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Ladywriter replied to dodgy | 2 months ago
2 likes

Or Lonsdale cycling jerseys 

 

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