Activa Capital, a French investment firm, has taken over an unspecified majority stake in Look Cycle and teamed up with its previous shareholders – led by the French bicycle company's chairman, Dominique Bergin, and its general manager, Thierry Fournier.
Look Cycle, which specializes in automatic pedals and high-end bicycles, said the consolidation of the industry made it more compelling to team up with an investment company and accelerate its expansion. The shareholders are targeting a turnover in the range of €100 million in 2021, compared with €45 million in 2015.
Look Cycle and Activa Capital have both made it clear that the deal could lead to further acquisitions. The investment firm said it was actively studying other potential investments, but there was plenty of scope to expand the Look brand in the bicycle market.
Activa Capital was drawn to the potential of the brand and the innovative aspect of the French company, which invests about 10 percent of its sales in research and development. The French investor is also the majority shareholder of Sport 2000 France, which includes the Mondovelo chain. This retailer sells some Look products, but Activa Capital said that it represented a small part of Look's revneues and that the two investments were unrelated.
Earlier this year Look acquired Corima, which specializes in the production of high-end carbon wheels. Look's development plans call for its expansion in the market for mountain bikes, which make up a small share of its turnover so far. The company is not yet involved in the market for electric bicycles, which has been driving market growth in quite a few European countries. Another category where Look could build up complementary sales is footwear.
When it comes to international coverage, about 75 percent of Look's sales are generated outside France. The company's business has been growing rapidly in Italy, Spain and the U.K. Activa Capital may support further investment in the North American and Asian markets, where Look is already active.
Speculation had been rife in the last years about a potential acquisition of Look, amid rapid consolidation in the bicycle industry. That makes it harder for Look to compete in terms of marketing and other investments with larger rivals in the road bike business. Rossignol, which had various ties with Look in previous years, was regarded as a likely buyer to complement its winter sports business. But earlier this year it ended up purchasing a majority stake in Time International – another French bicycle company, in the same central French town of Nevers.
Bergin, Fournier and another executive, Jean-Claude Chrétien, bought the bicycle arm of Look in 1998 from bankruptcy proceedings, while Rossignol bought the same company's ski bindings business four years earlier. For three years until 2012, the Rossignol apparel range was licensed to Sport et Styles, a company related to Look Cycle.
In 2015 Look divested Free Jump, an equestrian brand that it acquired five years earlier. Look Cycle and Activa Capital both declined to provide details on the spread of shareholding or Look's valuation in the latest deal.