Chain Reaction Cycles

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Wiggle-CRC Group
IndustryOnline sports retail
Founded1985 Edit this on Wikidata
Area served
Key people
Will Kernan (CEO), Brian McBride (Chairman)
ProductsTriathlon equipment. Bicycles, components and accessories. Running shoes and apparel. Swimming products. Outdoor and casual sports apparel. Tools etc.
Revenue£300+ Million (Wiggle-CRC Group)[citation needed]
Number of employees
c.900 (Wiggle-CRC Group)[citation needed]

Chain Reaction Cycles is an online retailer of cycling goods - based in Belfast, Northern Ireland,[1]

A 2017 merger with Wiggle Ltd resulted in the formation of the Wiggle-CRC Group, whose head office is in Portsmouth, UK.

Chain Reaction Cycles[edit]

Chain Reaction Cycles started out as a small bike shop named Ballynure Cycles which was opened in 1985 by George and Janice Watson[2] using a £1500 bank loan in the small village of Ballynure in Northern Ireland.[citation needed]

The business moved to larger premises in Ballyclare in 1989 and the name of the shop was changed to Ballyclare Cycles. During this time the Watson family organised some of the first ever downhill races in Ireland and put together the first ever Northern Ireland Downhill series.[citation needed]

As business continued to grow a mail order service was created and advertisements were placed in cycling publications. In 1998 the business was moved again to a warehouse to accommodate the increase in orders through the mail order service.[citation needed]

In late 1999 the company registered domain name and launched the Chain Reaction Cycles website.[3]

The sales grew each year. In 2011 revenues were £136.4 million (€170 million).[4] Its peak sales were in 2013, at £155.6 million.[5] By this time the website was providing multi lingual service and currency options for many countries.[6]

By 2015 sales had decreased to £136 million, with shares mainly going to Wiggle, a UK competitor.[7] The company also required investment.

A merger between Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles was announced in February 2016.[8]

Wiggle merger[edit]

After the Competition Commission approved the merger in July 2016 and Wiggle bought 100% of the Chain Reactions Cycle equity from the Watson family, the Wiggle CRC group was formed.[9]

CRC closed their Northern Irish warehouse to integrate their stock into Wiggle's 'Citadel'[10], but retains its own branding and website. The combined Wiggle CRC group generated an annual revenue of over £300 million.[10]

In October 2017 Wiggle CRC bought German company Bike24 for over £100 million, which continues to operate separately.[11] The group's combined revenue is now estimated at £500 million.[11]


  1. ^ "Danske Bank gets top spot in Belfast Telegraph's Top 100 Companies ". Belfast Telegraph. By Margaret Canning – 12 May 2015
  2. ^ "Nicholls Fuel Oils highest ranked family business in Belfast Telegraph's Top 100". Belfast Telegraph.
  3. ^ Retail Week - Chain Reaction: 10 things you didn't know about the cycles etailer
  4. ^ Irish Times - Pretax profit of €170m at world's largest online bike shop. Irish Times
  5. ^ "Ballyclare-based Chain Reaction Cycles sees its profits rise" By Symon Ross BBC News NI 14 October 2014
  6. ^ BBC News - Online-bike shop Chain Reaction makes £13m profit
  7. ^ Cunningham, Simon. "Sales at Chain Reaction Cycles down after currency moves". The Irish News. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Merger of Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles approved - MBR". MBR. 1 July 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  9. ^ Daly, Gavin (23 October 2016). "CRC riding high at €82m". The Sunday Times. ISSN 0956-1382. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Local bike shops look away now - reports of worsening losses at Wiggle are exaggerated |". Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  11. ^ a b "WiggleCRC confirms it has bought German e-commerce site Bike24 |". Retrieved 9 April 2018.

External links[edit]