WiggleCRC: Portsmouth-based business started off as bike shop before becoming international company - as staff are now being made redundant

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From a small independent bike business in Highland Road to an international sports retailer – a Portsmouth-based multi-million pound company has had a real transformation of its fortunes over the years.

WiggleCRC, which has its headquarters in Lakeside, North Harbour, made the shocking announcement that it was going into administration and as of yesterday (October 31), the company reportedly laid off approximately 100 of its 1,000 staff across its workplaces in Portsmouth and Belfast and its 320,000sq ft warehouse in Wolverhampton.

The company has appointed FRP Advisory as administrators and the online giant has been put up for sale.

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The business started off in Portsmouth where it was born in 1995 as a humble bike shop known as Butler’s Cycles in Highland Road where it became a popular local shop that residents still have fond memories of to this day.

WiggleCRC's headquarters is at Lakeside, North HarbourWiggleCRC's headquarters is at Lakeside, North Harbour
WiggleCRC's headquarters is at Lakeside, North Harbour

Mitch Dall, a founder of Wiggle, bought the shop in 1995 and it received a £2000 grant from Dall and Harvey Jones when it began trading as Wiggle in 1999. This is when the company began experimenting with online retail and different platforms to get their stock out in the world. It quickly became a force to be reckoned with and it began growing quickly.

By 2006, it was turning over £11.8m and Livingbridge private equity then took a 42 percent stake in the company which was followed by a 58 percent stake in 2009 following a 40 percent growth of the company. This included the remaining percentage that Dall owned.

In 2014, the company moved to Lakeside, North Harbour in Portsmouth but before that they were located at Harbour Gate Business Park.

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It became WiggleCRC in 2016 when it merged with its main rival, Chain Reaction Cycles and sells products including running shoes, tops, shorts, swimwear, sunglasses, hats, gym clothes and nutritional products. The merger witnessed the combination of the two largest companies in the UK online cycle retail market and by the end of 2016, Will Kernan became the CEO of the company.

In 2021 the company was acquired by Signa Sports United (SSU) based in Berlin and before the takeover, Wiggle CRC was the eighth largest privately owned company in the Solent region, with a turnover of £311m.

But in its most recently filed financial statement in August, WiggleCRC reported a pre-tax loss of £97m for the year to September 30, 2022.

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A statement from the administrators said: "We’d like to reassure customers that all operations are running as normal, including the websites and online sales of Wiggle.com, ChainReactionCycles.com and Hotlines-UK.com. Customer service support is live and can be contacted with any queries through the respective websites."

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