British cycling apparel brand Le Col has raised £2.35m from Puma Private Equity to fuel further growth, with the opportunity to increase the investment to £3.5m.
Le Col, founded by ex-professional cyclist Yanto Barker in 2011, ‘has its DNA in the pro peloton’ and its products have been aimed at bringing performance kit to consumers ‘with a quality once reserved solely for professionals’. The British company is based in London but manufactures all its kit in its own factory in Treviso, Italy – an area renowned for expertise in high-performance sporting apparel and latest technical materials.
Part of Puma Investments, UK-based Puma Private Equity delivers funding to SMEs in all sectors around the country – partnering with management teams to accelerate business growth. This year, it has completed £15m of investment in companies including NRG Gym, Sunlight Education Nucleus, Somerton and Capital Karts.
Le Col hired ex-Sky Marketing Director, Simon Creasey in 2017 and has reportedly seen exponential growth in the last year with an increased focus on marketing & e-commerce. In 2018 alone, e-commerce sales have reportedly increased seven-fold year on year. With a strong mix of digital & influencer marketing alongside more traditional partnerships with Eurosport, Strava, MatchesFashion and Sigma Sports, Le Col has ‘been busy creating thousands of new fans of the brand’.
Sir Bradley Wiggins recently partnered with Le Col to create his own range with the brand, ‘Le Col by Wiggins’, as well as moving his Team Wiggins kit from Rapha to Le Col in 2018.
The company will use the funds to expand, with the aim of ‘creating a truly global brand and accelerating its already successful growth strategy’. The funding comes after the brand raised £1m from crowdfunding in 2017, funding which has already been put to use with ‘overall revenues set to treble in 2018’.
Yanto Barker, Le Col Founder, commented, “We are delighted to welcome Puma Private Equity on board; their support will be key in facilitating the next phase of Le Col’s growth. The gains we’ve made in 2018 have been exceptional and this investment will be instrumental in taking our market leading product to a global cycling audience.”
Tommy O’Sullivan, Managing Director at Puma Private Equity, who will join the Board of Le Col added, “Guided by Yanto’s performance insight, design expertise and drive for perfection, Le Col is becoming the go-to brand for cyclists looking for the best kit. Our investment will support the team to leverage the explosive growth it has achieved over the last 12 months, ensuring Le Col continues on its exciting journey.”
Chand Chudasama, Director at Price Bailey in its Strategic Corporate Finance team, said “Le Col is a really special business for us; we have worked with the management team for two and a half years now. They are a really strong team focused on performance, their customers and an exceptional product range.
“Though there was strong interest in Le Col from a variety of investors, once Puma demonstrated their understanding of what drives value in this sector and then matched this with a really pragmatic and commercial approach to doing a deal it was clear that they would be the perfect investment partner for the future. We’re delighted to see Le Col now have the opportunity to go to the next level.”