Concept Cycling pedals away with £12.5 million management buy-out

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Manchester-based Concept Cycling Limited has been bought by its management in a £12.5 million deal.

Concept, along with its two subsidiaries – Acorn Sports and Leisure (UK) Limited and Wheelbase (UK) Limited – is a £30 million group turnover business that imports and assembles bicycles and sells accessories. It is one of the largest suppliers of bicycles in the UK.

The deal has been led, structured and arranged by Clearwater Corporate Finance Plc. Funding was provided by Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance and supported by Lloyds TSB Corporate, which will continue to provide foreign facilities.

The Concept Group has a core customer base of over 1500 independent bike dealerships into which it sells its Concept, Integra, Saxon, Reflex, Coyote and Viking brands. In recent years Concept has shown strong growth in all market sectors and now operates from seven sites situated in the North of England and Wales.

It has a head office in Worsley, Manchester, a factory assembling bikes in Oldham, a wheel factory in Wales and the Acorn accessories and retailing head office, which is in Haworth in Yorkshire. The Group employs over 240 staff at its various locations.

Leading the Group MBO are managing director, Robert Pollard, corporate sales director Mark Winters, purchasing director Peter White, manufacturing director Richard Bevan and Acorn directors Julian Pointon and Brian Dickson.

The business was established in 1996 by the vendors, Steven Walsh and Paul Allen and has grown rapidly to become one of the largest bicycle businesses in the UK. Both of the vendors will be retaining a stake in the business as it moves forward.

Managing director, Robert Pollard said “The Concept Cycling Group has grown quickly to its current dominant position in a short period of time, and is currently selling over 400,000 bicycles in the UK and abroad each year. We’re very excited at being given this opportunity to take the business to the next level. Steven and Paul have built up a very successful company and it’s good to have their continued commitment and support.

“There are many opportunities for the management team within the bicycle market and related sectors. We have just launched a new range of bikes to satisfy the UK independent bike dealer demand and we’ll also be looking to grow the Acorn accessories business, which has huge potential as well as continuing to exploit new opportunities and product lines.

“Overall we are aiming to capitalise on the Group’s unique ability to source and develop the UK’s most popular and competitive product ranges, and continue to deliver the best value bicycles into the UK marketplace.”

The Clearwater Corporate Finance Plc team were led by partner Paul Jones, assisted by director, Simon Lord and deal leader, Jon Mercer.

Paul Jones for Clearwater Corporate Finance commented; “We’ve been close to the business for a number of years and the MBO is a natural progression for the management team. This is a strong management team, with a great business and having the support and commitment of the vendors and a very supportive bank is a real recipe for success.”

The Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance was led by North West regional director Mike Scowen, with Ray Stringer leading Lloyds TSB Corporate.

Mike Scowen said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to support an innovative North West business with a proven management team, excellent product development and a strong market position.

“The MBO gives the team at Concept Cycling a platform for continued growth in the UK market and to develop its export business. We’ve worked hard to structure a flexible finance solution to help them achieve those goals.”

Danny Hall, Jane Southworth and David Williams of Eversheds advised the MBO team with Paula Smith and Sue Parker of DWF and Paul Ruocco of TMG advising the vendors.