Chain Reaction in merger bid for growth

Chris Watson outside Chain Reaction's Belfast store as the firm looks forward to an "exctiting new chapter"
Chris Watson outside Chain Reaction's Belfast store as the firm looks forward to an "exctiting new chapter"

From a cycle shop in the Co Antrim village of Ballynure to a global presence with 450 staff, Chain Reaction Cyles confirmed it is to merge with GB based retailer Wiggle in a bid for global online growth “and a major British export success story”.

Founded in 1984 the business became Chain Reaction Cycles (CRC) in 1989 and has grown rapidly under the control of the Watson family.

Confirming the deal with the Portsmouth company which also has a huge online presence, Chris Watson, CRC managing director and son of founders George and Janice, said the merger marked “an exciting new chapter,” for the business.

The deal is subject to a number of regulatory approvals, including merger control clearance from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) but, if agreed, heralds the creation of a formidable retail machine operating in the lucrative world of cycling, running, swimming and triathlon (tri-sports) products and accessories.

Together the combined business will be able to supply a broader offering and a stronger platform with which to attract new brands and compete in the wider cycling and accessories market.Financially, the combined business will have revenues in excess of £300m.

“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,” said Mr Watson.

“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.”

Wiggle CEO Stefan Bardensaid: “In the global online retailing market in which we operate, there is 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.

“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.”