Raleigh sold to Dutch rival Accell

 

Classic bike brand Raleigh was today sold to Dutch rival Accell in a deal valuing the 125-year-old company at £62.2 million.

The firm, which was founded in Nottingham and is perhaps most famous for its Raleigh Chopper, will complement Accell's stable of brands including Batavus and Sparta.

The deal, which still needs the approval of regulators, is likely to net Raleigh chief executive Alan Finden a multi-million pound windfall, as he is one the company's largest shareholders after he led a management buyout in 2001.

Raleigh began life when Sir Frank Bowden bought an interest in a small bike company in the city's Raleigh Street in 1887.

Raleigh, which sold 850,000 bikes worldwide last year and whose brands include Avenir and Diamondback, still designs bikes in Nottingham, where it employs more than 100 staff, but they are made in the Far East.

It has grown to become a company with sales of £195 million a year and 430 employees. Its bikes have also been ridden by Tour de France winners.

Raleigh, which ceased production in Nottingham in 2002, was once the biggest bicycle maker in the world, employing 8,000 people after the Second World War.

Other famous Raleigh brands include Grifter, Burner, Diamondback and Avenir.

Raleigh operates through production and distribution companies in the UK, US and Canada and has worldwide licensing activities.

In the UK, Raleigh's bikes are sold through 1,500 independent bike dealers as well as through Amazon, Toys R Us, Argos and its network of about 70 Cyclelife stores.

The deal is expected to complete at the end of next month and Raleigh's management team will stay on, with Mr Finden-Crofts remaining as boss for at least six months.

Mr Finden-Crofts said: "In Raleigh, Accell Group is acquiring a true global brand with 125 years of heritage and distribution into over 140 countries worldwide, and I am entirely confident that Raleigh has found the ideal employer to support the employees, customers, suppliers and the future growth of the business."

The company's milestones include launching the Chopper in 1970 and the acquisition of TI Group in 1960, which made it the world's largest producer of two-wheeled transport.

In 1980, Joop Zoetemelk of Holland, riding for TI Raleigh Creda, won the Tour de France.

Accell chief executive Rene Takens said the deal would add "a strong traditional and global brand with a rich heritage" to its portfolio, with the Diamondback range strengthening its mountain bike and BMX offer.

Jonathan Buxton, partner at Cavendish Corporate Finance, which advised on the deal, said: "Raleigh is one of the very few examples of a UK company which has successfully migrated from a pure manufacturing model into a global brand - boosting international sales, particularly in North America, and with a fast-growing presence in Asia."

PA

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