Former Asda CEO Andy Bond is back in the saddle as he takes a stake in fast-growing bikes etailer Wiggle
Bond, who stepped down as Asda chief executive to take up a part-time role as chairman in April, will advise the cycling and triathlon goods retailer on its growth strategy, including international expansion. The size of Bond’s stake has not been disclosed.
Bond - who has just completed a 1,100-mile cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats and raised nearly £2.5m for Asda’s Tickled Pink charity supporting breast care - told Retail Week: “I’m very passionate about cycling but this role is perfect for me as Wiggle is also a great business with lots of growth.”
He will guide Wiggle, which is backed by private equity firm Isis, on overseas growth drawing on skills built up advising Asda parent Walmart on its global roll-out, as well as provide leadership advice and experience gleaned developing Asda’s £500m dotcom business.
Wiggle, which was founded in 1999, now generates annual sales of £55m and ships to 88 countries. Isis took a stake in the etailer in 2006 in a £12m deal and has since built up a majority holding.
Bond said his appointment does not signal that Isis wants to sell the etailer. “Isis is not currently looking for an exit and my appointment should indicate it is a medium-term investor,” he said.
A report from research house Mintel earlier this month found that bike sales growth is being propelled by 35- to 45-year-old men with families - dubbed ‘Mamils’, which means ‘middle-aged men in Lycra’ - who are buying bicycles instead of sports cars as they approach middle age.
Bond said cycling is a “boom market” and will continue to grow as a result of the 2012 Olympics and initiatives such as the Mayor of London’s bike scheme. “It’s a good trend for health and the environment and Wiggle is in a good position,” he said.
He emphasised that he will remain chairman of Asda and Wiggle fits into his free two days a week.
Wiggle chief executive Humphrey Cobbold said Bond’s “20 years as a shopkeeper” will bring “considerable retailing and operational skills” to the etailer and his experience managing clothing brand George will help the etailer with sourcing.
Cobbold said Wiggle appeals to the serious hobbyist or enthusiast instead of mainstream leisure cyclists but “we will make the business more accessible over time, while retaining our specialist skills”. He said the etailer has not ruled out opening physical stores in future.