British clothing brand Rapha has just launched a selection of its range on online sports retailer Wiggle. A selection of product will also be available on Wiggle’s sibling sites Chain Reaction Cycles and bike-24.de.
The company is selling its Core, Classic and Pro Team collections on the retail giant’s website, which aligns with Rapha’s recent move to close a number of Club Houses (Rapha’s own retail stores and cafes), alongside axing a claimed 80 jobs last month, as reported by The Telegraph.
The company was bought by the heirs of Walmart for around £200/$260 million last year, and a number of changes have come into place in the last few months suggesting a new strategy for the brand, which also includes partnering with WorldTour team EF Education First-Drapac for the 2019 season.
In an email sent to Rapha staff from CMO Sarah Clark, sourced by BikeRadar, the company says: “As part of our ambition to get closer to the core, engaged cycling market and our strategy of using select wholesale moving forward, Rapha will be launching on 12 October with a limited range of our most popular products.
“At the strategic reset in September, Simon [Mottram – Rapha’s founder and CEO] outlined our aim to reach more engaged cyclists through the targeted use of wholesale, building on our projects like the Apple luggage capsule to reach our core audience in new places.
Rapha’s founder and CEO Simon Mottram George Marshall
“We remain committed to our direct-to-consumer model and the vast majority of our sales will continue to come through Rapha channels, but partnerships like Wiggle should allow us to reach more cyclists, more often.”
After previously selling its products in retailers, including Evans Cycles, Rapha became exclusively direct-to-consumer several years ago, so this move to stock products on Wiggle sees a return to that previous business model.
The company also said in the email sent to staff that it will provide all of its own imagery of stock, including lifestyle shots to maintain the brand’s credentials.
Rapha is now selling its products on Wiggle Courtesy Rapaha
“To maintain and strengthen our brand credentials, we will provide all location and studio stills for use in marketing our product on Wiggle and they may support the promotion of major programmes such as the Festive 500.
“We will also sign off all Rapha-related pages and communications.”
Wiggle offers a loyalty scheme for customers, offering those who spend over £100 per year 5 percent off and over £500 12 percent off. Customers who benefit from these discounts will now be able to purchase Rapha items on Wiggle for a cheaper price than direct from the brand.
What do you think of Rapha’s decision to abandon its direct to consumer model? Do you think it could harm the brand’s identity and exclusive reputation or do you think it will increase sales and make the brand accessible for all? Let us know in the comments below.