‘At the beginning of my business plan, I used to have a quote from Lance Armstrong,’ Simon Mottram, founder of the premium cycling brand Rapha, told MT back in May. ‘We don't talk about him any more.’
While the drugs cheat’s downfall may have been a knockback for the reputation of cycling, it was clearly just a blip. From £8,000 Boardman bikes to £260 jerseys, and the rapid rise of the Strava smartphone app, cycling is big business at the moment.
It’s a trend that’s given a serious boost to Rapha, which makes the clothing for Britain’s Tour de France-winning Team Sky. It’s latest figures, out today, look pretty robust. Sales were up 37% to £39m in the year to February 1, while EBITDA was up 93% to £2m. Pre-tax profits were down slightly, though, after the company ploughed cash into a new HQ and investment into its US expansion.
‘We’ve seen a great response to our Cycle Club stores in San Francisco, New York, as well as the pop up clubs in Denver and Chicago, and we believe there is huge potential for further growth for Rapha in the US, the world’s largest cycling market,’ said Rapha founder and chief executive Simon Mottram. A new branch will open in Los Angeles next month.
Rapha has also been splashing the cash on RCC, its members’ club, which costs £200 per year, already has 3,000 paying members and had to close applications this year because it couldn't keep up with demand. It seems consumers' appetite for cycling isn't going anywhere just yet.