Bike Firm Wiggle Gets In Gear For Float
The investment firm which recently abandoned a flotation of Fat Face, the fashion retailer, is taking fresh steps towards a listing of Wiggle, the online sports goods store.
Sky News understands that Bridgepoint is lining up the investment banks Nomura and Numis Securities to work on a potential initial public offering (IPO), which could take place as soon as this year.
Wiggle has been owned by Bridgepoint since 2011, when it was taken over in a deal which valued the company at about £180m.
The retailer had a strong year in 2012, buoyed by Sir Bradley Wiggins' historic Tour de France victory and the medal-winning success of Team GB's cyclists at the London Olympic Games.
Wiggle was established in 1999 with a focus on cycling but now positions itself as an online destination for triathletes, selling running and swimming products as well.
The company is chaired by Andy Bond, the former boss of Asda, and recently named Giles David, an experienced retailer, as its new chief financial officer.
Sources close to the situation insisted that firm decisions had not yet been made about how or when Bridgepoint would sell its controlling stake.
Insiders said, though, that a recent process to appoint bankers had made it clear that a flotation was a serious option.
Wiggle's previous owner, the private equity group ISIS Equity Partners, had also considered taking the business public but opted to sell to Bridgepoint instead.
If it does list on the stock market, Wiggle would join a growing band of internet-based companies which are seeking to exploit the current window for flotations as customers accelerate their migration to digital channels.
Sky News revealed at the weekend that Trainline, the rail ticket booking site, was examining an IPO, which would also test investors' appetite for tech companies following a mixed reception for a spate of market debuts in recent months.
Businesses such as AO World, a digital channel for white goods sales, and Just Eat, an online takeaway service, attracted strong demand ahead of their listings but both have traded down since going public.
Wiggle's sales rose almost 21% to £141m in the year to February 3, 2013, the latest for which results are available. Profits also rose, to £14m.
Bridgepoint declined to comment.