Grandsons of Walmart founder scoop Rapha business in £200 million deal

An investment firm created by two of Walmarts’ Billionaire partners has beat off competition to take on ownership of cycle clothing brand Rapha, according to Sky News.

The duo – Stuart and Tom Walton of RZC Investments – grandsons of Walmart founder Sam, have signed the deal to buyout Simon Mottram’s brand with a deal expected to be formally announced on Tuesday.

Mottram founded the brand in 2004 and has since grown the business to deliver a global clothing business, boasting both high-ticket membership and a £1 million turnover in the cycle tourism trade. The business also has ‘clubhouses’ across the world, something Mottram had alluded to expanding upon.

Sky’s sources suggest that it was RZC’s strategy that ultimately saw off competitor’s in the deal, which as reportedly previously included Invus.

The deal, if finalised for the reported £200 million figure, would represent a purchase amounting to 20 fold the firm’s annual profits. Revenues in the year to January 2017 rose to £63 million, a 30% increase year-on-year. Mottram has also said that turnover has substantially increased.

Sky reports that BDT Capital Partners will work with RZC to conclude the sale, while Rapha is taking advice from investment bank William Blair.

Full statement from Rapha

Cycling lifestyle brand Rapha is delighted to announce that US-based RZC Investments is now the majority shareholder in the business. Rapha has been owned since launch by Simon Mottram and a group of founder shareholders, including lead investor, Active Partners.

Rapha has always had bold ambitions to elevate the sport of cycling and drive participation at all levels. Since it launched in 2004, the brand has introduced new levels of quality, style and performance to cycling apparel and accessories, underpinned by its four-year sponsorship of Team Sky. As well as transforming the design of cycling products, Rapha has also brought a highly engaging and successful direct to consumer business model to the cycling world. Rapha has pioneered new approaches to content and marketing and to omni-channel retail and customer engagement through the Rapha Clubhouses in key cities, the global Rapha Cycling Club (RCC), the in-house Rapha Travel business, and global Rapha events series.

Rapha has expanded rapidly overseas, now selling through 20 local websites, shipping to over 100 countries and operating 17 Clubhouses in major cities around the world, with seven new clubhouses opening by the end of this year alone. The business has grown by more than 25% every year, has been profitable since 2009 and now has more than 200,000 active customers and 450 employees.

RZC Investments is backing Rapha founder Simon Mottram and his leadership team to deliver the next phase of their strategy. The acquisition will allow Rapha to roll out its Clubhouse network, Membership club and range of products and services, expand its reach globally and strengthen its leadership position in cycling. Simon Mottram will remain as Chief Executive and has retained a significant part of his stake in the business.

Simon Mottram, founder and chief executive of Rapha, said:
‘This is an exciting day for Rapha. It heralds the start of the next stage of our journey and is testament to the growth and potential that people see in Rapha and in cycling. The arrival of RZC Investments as a shareholder means we can pursue our mission to elevate cycling as a global sport and recruit more participants by engaging them and enabling them to ride with us at all levels. Support from RZC Investments will allow us to further expand our active global community of cyclists, develop even better and more innovative products and services to enhance cyclists’ lives and inspire many more people to take up the World’s greatest sport.’

Steuart Walton, co-founder of RZC Investments, commented:
‘Rapha represents the very best in the world of cycling. Our investment demonstrates our enthusiasm for its quality products, amazing community of cyclists and customers and its strong future. Rapha’s strategic vision has set the company on a path of tremendous growth and opportunity. We’re excited to be part of this next chapter by bringing the best sport in the world to more people in more ways and places.’

William Blair, Pinsent Masons and Withers advised the company on the transaction.