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Stefan Barden ‘leads the peloton’ replacing Humphrey Cobbold as new CEO at Wiggle


Leading online multisport retailer Wiggle has hired food industry executive Stefan Barden as its new Chief Executive Officer to replace outgoing CEO Humphrey Cobbold.

Barden joins Wiggle from UK foodservice distribution company Brakes Bros where he was CEO. He was prior to that in leadership positions at Northern Foods and HJ Heinz Company in the UK & Ireland. Barden started his career at Unilever and was also a consultant at McKinsey.

As an interesting addition to his CV, a release from Wiggle notes that Barden is a triathlon enthusiast and Ironman competitor – indicating that the tri category may get heightened attention from Wiggle in the months ahead.

Preserving the food industry connection between senior executives at Wiggle, new Wiggle CEO Stefan Barden joins the retailer’s Chairman Andy Bond on the Wiggle board. Bond is a former Chief Executive at major UK grocery retailer Asda.

Outgoing CEO Humphrey Cobbold and Wiggle’s board ‘have agreed that the time is now right for a transition to new leadership.’

Cobbold leaves the online retailer after four years at the helm. He originally joined Wiggle in September 2009. He has presided over strong growth for the company, with turnover surging from £33 million (US$51 million) to more than £140 million (US$218 million).

(Wiggle revealed a 20.8% increase in turnover to £140.8m for the financial year to 3 February 2013.)

In a statement, Cobbold said “I have had the privilege to work with a truly fabulous group of colleagues and business partners over the last four years. The time is now right for someone else to lead the peloton and take Wiggle forward to future success.”

Wiggle Chairman Andy Bond said “We’re very pleased to welcome a new leader of the company whose experience includes many senior roles in industries with a strong customer service ethic.

“Stefan’s international experience and leadership of large-scale businesses will be especially relevant during this next phase of our geographic expansion as the business invests in the build-out of its operations as well as in its infrastructure and customer experience.”

The origins of Wiggle can be traced back to a small independent bike shop called Butler Cycles, which had been trading since the 1920s. The bricks and mortar shop was located in Portsmouth, UK, and employed a handful of staff.

Wiggle officially started trading on 28 May 1999 for an initial investment of just £2000 by founder Mitch Dall and his new business partner Harvey Jones. Wiggle’s first official premises was a modest spare room at the back of the ‘Bikes @ Butlers’ store. To get their online business off the ground, Mitch and Harvey started selling some of the shop’s stock on the internet.

In April 2009 Mitch Dall sold his shares in Wiggle to the private equity company ISIS Equity Partners (who had invested in Wiggle in 2006) and to Wiggle’s existing management team.

Wiggle was sold to the private equity investment company Bridgepoint in December 2011. Bridgepoint specialises in investing in middle market businesses and is ‘driving Wiggle forward and ensuring that the company continues to raise the bar and provide a great service and stocking the very best products.’




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