Vittoria returns to Italy with private equity buyer’s help

Bicycle tyre label Vittoria has signed a deal with an Italian private equity firm to deliver investment in the brand’s future.

Delivered alongside the retirement of President Rudie Campagne in July, the deal will see entrepreneur Stijn Vriends join the business as a Wise Equity partner, becoming the firm’s new President and CEO in the process. Campagne will become an honorary chairman for life.

Crucially for Vittoria, the brands Dutch owners hand the business back to Italian ownership and with the announcement comes news that the firm will build a €7 million, state-of-the-art office, warehouse and test centre in Bergamo.

“Me and my partners eventually always wanted to bring the brand home to Italy, the cradle of the cycling world,” said retiring president Rudie Campagne. “Turning over the reigns to Wise Equity therefore feels like the completion of a cycle.”

The brand’s production will remain in Bangkok where it has two sites and five buildings housing over 1,000 staff.

The Milan-based private equity fund, awarded “Best Italian LBO Fund” three years running, takes the helm at a business with 1,300 employees around the globe and a manufacturer producing over 7 million tyres annually. Revenues are north of €60 million.

“It’s more exciting than ever to be part of the ever-changing urban mobility landscape and our graphene tyre technology, developed for sport bicycles, can now become our dominant competitive edge in the Urban bike category, as graphene tyres are ideal for city-and-E-bikes which need long endurance,” said incoming CEO Stijn Vriends.

Last month Vittoria launched a new line of Graphene embedded tyres, which it claimed could essentially save battery on an e-Bike, thanks to the additional range the compound could deliver.

Product strategy and research will become key activities at the Bergamo HQ where scientific cooperation will be activated with the EU Graphene Flagship and compound & polymers research facilities. Collaborations with suppliers of advanced chemicals will also be intensified.

Back in 2016, Vittoria’s Frank Levering explained why the technology was so exciting for the business, telling CI.N “Think of vase full of marbles, that’s carbon. Graphene is the sand that fills the jar, adding an immense amount of new properties to an already excellent material.”

For Vittoria, the use case enables the manufacturer to add durability, reduce rolling resistance and add puncture protection on its tyres. The manufacturer is said to be the single largest buyer of graphene for use in tyres in the world, something that has seen it add 15% in annual revenues via sales of this spec.

Dr. Valerio De Molli, CEO and managing partner of the first Italian Think Thank ‘The European HouseAmbrosetti’, will join Vittoria as a board member to collectively develop industrial strategies to promote and stimulate the high potential of the Italian cycling industry and create Italian professional racing teams.