Bike giant Chain Reaction Cycles and rival's merger wins approval
The multimillion-pound merger of the Co Antrim online bike giant Chain Reaction Cycles (CRC) and international rival Wiggle is powering ahead following clearance from the Competition and Markets Authority.
The newly formed group will be called WiggleCRC and will have combined revenues of more than £300m. Chris Watson, managing director of Chain Reaction, will sit on the board and will be a significant shareholder.
The firm maintains the family's link to the business founded as a small bike shop by Chris Watson's parents, Janice and George, in Ballynure in 1984. They and their four children have all worked for the company, which is now the world's largest online bicycle store.
The business employs around 500 staff and apart from its booming online arm, it operates a flagship store on Boucher Road in Belfast. Group turnover is more than £150m a year.
As well as mountain and road bikes, CRC sells accessories for running, swimming and more,
In a joint statement, Chris Watson and Stefan Barden, chief executive of Wiggle and new managing director of the merged company, insisted: "Together, Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles' first-class team of sports enthusiasts and strong heritage and expertise in cycling, running, swimming and tri-sports, will form the foundations for building a global champion."
Local shareholders of CRC were advised on the deal by the law firm Carson McDowell.
Richard Gray, partner and joint head of corporate, said: "The now approved deal with Wiggle represents a new chapter in the success story of Chain Reaction Cycles, a homegrown company which has achieved global online sales. This merger will strengthen their position in the online market."