image: Rapha

image: Rapha

After making headlines in October when its investment fund subsidiary L Catterton reportedly entered into discussions to acquire Italian bicycle maker Cicli Pinarello SpA, LVMH is eyeing up another cycling brand. This time, LVMH – parent to Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Celine, and Marc Jacobs, among other fashion and non-fashion brands – is said to be in talks to acquire (by way of Catterton) British cycling clothing brand, Rapha.

Founded in 2004 by former luxury brand consultant Simon Mottram and helped by the boom in road cycling over the past decade or so in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, Rapha – which boasts significant markets in the U.S., Australia and Japan – achieved turnover of £48.8 million in the year ending in January 2016. And the potential acquisition makes quite a bit of sense, as a new trend appears to be emerging in the luxury sphere, one that focuses on wellness and the luxury lifestyle.

As we told you last month, LVHM is not alone in its look to sporting goods. In 2012, famed trunk maker Moynat introduced the $33,000 Malle Bicyclette, largely as a means of selling its new picnic basket. That same year, Dolce & Gabbana introduced a $2,000+ leopard-printed bike; that – not surprisingly – turned out to be a one-off. Chanel, Fendi, and Gucci tried their hands at limited edition bikes, as well. Shinola, the Detroit-based brand celebrated for its (mostly) American-made watches, launched a collection of bikes a few years ago. And quite notably, Hermès announced the impending release of its collection of $13,000+ handmade bicycles in October 2013.

Far more than a way to sell luxury bike bags (or $200+ cycling apparel if you’re Rapha), the luxury sector’s push into the wellness category is particularly meaningful, as wellness and leisure continue to take center stage among the market’s top spenders. As New York magazine noted earlier this year, “These days, people aren’t above paying $40 several times a week to ride a stationary bike to nowhere, followed by another $8 to cool down with a watermelon juice.” Similarly, Vogue noted: “For most people, spending so much on staying fit and healthy would be a preposterous indulgence, but for a growing percentage of individuals with high discretionary income, wellness has become an important part of the luxury lifestyle.” 

With this in mind, both Pinarello and Rapha seem to be apt additions to current L Catterton investments within the sports industry, which include compression clothing maker 2XU, activewear brand Sweaty Betty, the Peloton at-home fitness bike, sports drinks and supplements manufacturer X2 Performance, and the 360fly action camera brand.

Neither LVMH nor Rapha would comment on the rumored acquisition.

UPDATED (8/7/2017): Walmart heirs Steuart and Tom Walton and their firm RZC Investments will now own a controlling stake in the business.

Founder and chief executive Simon Mottram, who has only ever held a minority stake, told BBC that the deal marked “an exciting day” for the company.

“It heralds the start of the next stage of our journey and is testament to the growth and potential that people see in Rapha and in cycling,” he added.

The company did not announce the purchase price. Sky News is reporting that it was 200 million pounds ($260 million).