If you follow the merger and acquisition side of the bike biz then you’ve probably been aware that the leviathan of cycling apparel, Rapha, has been courting buyers. It was previously reported that LVMH, the group that owns Louis Vuitton (and scores of other luxury brands like Moët and Chandon) and ultimately bought Pinarello, was interested in Rapha, but they passed.
So who bought Rapha? Hold on to your seats.
RZC Investments. Likely, you are scratching your heads right now. It’s not a name you or anyone else in the bike industry has heard. There’s not much of a paper trail on them; one can find lots on other similarly named entities in Google.
But here’s what we can tell you: RZC is an investment group headed up by Steuart and Tom Walton. Of those Waltons. Not the John Boy and Mary Ellen variety, but the family out of Bentonville, Arkansas, who own Walmart. Steuart and Tom are grandsons and Tom is known to have kickstarted the trail building in Bentonville that has made it the hot spot for mountain biking for nearly 1000 miles in every direction.
While LVMH decided to against buying Rapha, RZC Investments had to fend off other suitors including Invus Group and Industrialinvest, which is a shareholder in Aston Martin. RZC is reported to have paid $200 million to CEO Simon Mottram and his investors. Shareholders in Rapha include Active, which has stakes in Honest Burger, Soho House and Leon.
So what did RZC get for its $200M? Well Rapha’s revenue for 2016 was £63m, which was up 30 percent over 2015. They are reportedly up 40 percent over this point last year. Considering the crazy multipliers over EBITDA that are seen in the tech sector, this was a terrific buy for RZC.
We at RKP have several unnamed sources that have told us there is an effort by Mssrs. Walton to bring more bike brands to Arkansas, to do for Arkansas what Boulder did for Colorado. There is no word on whether the apparel maker will move stateside, but if this is the kind of capital they are willing to pour into the bike sector, expect to see some other jaw-dropping purchases.