LVMH is said to be in discussions for the acquisition of Cicli Pinarello, the Italian brand of high-end road bicycles, as well as Rapha, the British brand of classy cycling apparel. The reports could not be confirmed at the time of going to press.
If confirmed, these moves by the world's leading luxury goods conglomerate would resemble – on a smaller scale - the acquisition nine years ago of Puma and Volcom by the former PPR, now called Kering, which is only now starting to show some momentum.
It would come after a major slowdown in the growth of the global luxury goods market in recent years, while the sporting goods market has been rising at a steady annual pace of 5 percent. The premium and lifestyle segments of this market have been faring particularly well.
Pinarello and Rapha have both been sponsors of Team Sky, one of the world's best pro cycling teams, although the deal with Rapha came to an end earlier this year. The rumor about Pinarello's takeover came out about one month ago, as we have already reported. The company has annual sales of more than €50 million. Founded by Giovanni Pinarello in 1953, the company has become a highly innovative producer of high-performance bicycles under the management of his son, Fausto Pinarello.
Founded in London in 2004 by a former brand consultant, Simon Mottram, Rapha had a pre-tax profit of £1.1 million (€1.29m-$1.37m) on sales of £48.8 million (€57.2m-$60.9m) in the financial year ended last Jan. 31, according to the Daily Mail, which revealed the news of the talks with LVMH. The company has 14 Rapha Clubhouse stores that serve as a meeting point for a community of 8,000 Rapha Cycling Club members. Its garments are made by KTC, the highly technical Chinese apparel manufacturer owned by Austrian interests.
A few weeks ago, LVMH strode away from its focus on fashion, cosmetics, jewelry, spirits and duty-free retailing by taking an 80 percent stake in Rimowa, the leading German brand of high-quality travel luggage, for $640 million. Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH, appointed his 24-year-old son, Alexandre Arnault, as joint CEO of the company.
LVMH's forays into the sports segment have been mostly scattered financial investments such as the acquisition in 2013 of a 40 percent stake in 2XU, the Australian supplier of compression garments. Last January, 2XU was merged with other holdings including Sweaty Betty into a joint venture with an American private equity firm, Catterton. Bernard Arnault has a 40 percent stake in the joint venture, called L Catterton.