Cycling company Rapha, with US headquarters in Portland, sells to Walmart heirs

This pastel shade of pink has become synonymous with the Rapha brand. Here, a Rapha rider grabs a snack. (

, a high-end cycling gear company with its North American headquarters in Portland, has sold a majority stake to RZC Investments, a private equity firm led by Walmart heirs Steuart and Tom Walton.

The sale, announced Tuesday, shifts the company’s majority ownership from a group of founder shareholders, including lead investor Active Partners, a U.K. private equity firm.

Rapha got its start in England in 2004, when founder Simon Mottram was selling T-shirts and hats in a rented East London gallery.

PORTLAND, OREGON — May 14, 2013 — Simon Mottram, founder of Rapha Racing Ltd., an upscale bicycle apparel brand, has seen his creation rocket from T-shirt obscurity to trend-setting success.

Since then, the company has grown rapidly, and now offers everything from cycling shorts to skincare products, often recognizable by the brand’s trademark shade of pink.

According to a statement from Rapha, sales have grown by more than 25 percent each year, and the company has been profitable since 2009.

It employs 450 and operates 17 retail locations – known as "clubhouses" – around the world (though not in Portland). Rapha also sponsors two professional racing teams.

It is unclear how many people work at the Portland office, or how this acquisition will affect the local office.

The acquisition by RZC Investments will allow Mottram and his leadership team to continue to grow Rapha. Mottram will stay on as chief executive and has "retained a significant part of his stake in the business," the statement said.

Mottram said the acquisition marks a new chapter for Rapha.

"The arrival of RZC Investments as a shareholder means we can pursue our mission to elevate cycling as a global sport and recruit more participants by engaging them and enabling them to ride with us at all levels," he said.

The investment reflects the opportunity in the cycling industry. According to a 2016 Persistence Market Research report, the global market for bicycles is expected to grow by 38 percent by 2024, with annual sales reaching $62 billion.

Steuart Walton said Mottram’s strategy for Rapha thus far has set it up for success.

"Rapha represents the very best in the world of cycling," he said. "Our investment demonstrates our enthusiasm for its quality products, amazing community of cyclists and customers and its strong future."

— Anna Marum

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