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 shop was located at Highland Road in Portsmouth and employed a handful of staff. Mitch Dall took an interest in the shop and decided to buy the property. It was part of the sale conditions that the shop would continue to operate as a bike retailer for a period of 5 years. Butler Cycles moved to Hayling Avenue, Portsmouth and changed its name to “Bikes @ Butlers” to highlight its early interest in the growing world of online.
The Wiggle journey starts here … Butler Cycles
The birth of the business
Wiggle officially started trading on the 28th May 1999 for an initial investment of just £2000 by Mitch and his new business partner Harvey Jones. During this same period “Bikes @ Butlers” was doing a good trade as a local bike shop and national mail order service. Harvey was an internet enthusiast and was excited by the untapped potential of trading online. ”I remember the shop at Christmas 2001 we sent out 100 parcels in one day which was a record then” – Barbara Tatford – Wiggle purchase ledger co-ordinator.
Wiggle’s first official premises, was a modest spare room at the back of “Bikes @ Butlers”. To get their online business off the ground, Mitch and Harvey started selling some of the shop’s stock on the internet. They also identified a gap in the online market for condoms and solar eclipse viewing glasses; in short they sold anything and everything! Wiggle’s sales were steadily increasing in 2000 and this prompted Mitch and Harvey to think about the business on a much larger scale. After deep discussions they decided that the natural evolution of the business was to transform Wiggle into a sports retailer. In 2002 a larger premises in Jackson Close, Portsmouth was identified as the base to take their young and fun company to the next level.
Wiggle’s first real home … bikes@butlers
Wiggle continued to experience impressive growth and was adding one new brand a week to keep up with consumer demand. “I remember being the first person to process 100 orders in a day“ – Bradley Nolan, Wiggle’s’ Processing and Returns manager. 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 Wiggle’s existing management team. In September 2009, the CEO of Wiggle, Humphrey Cobbold, joined the company. His first week involved a memorable group ride with Garmin-Slipstream cycling team. ”My first group ride with the Garmin-Slipstream cycling team was something I could easily get used to” – CEO of Wiggle Humphrey Cobbold. The expansion of Wiggle continued. A new London office for I.T. and Wiggle’s own brands was set up in the vibrant Borough Market area of London in early 2011. Two new warehouses were acquired to increase stock holding and continue providing a first class service to our customers. Not forgetting our test track that every bike we sell is tested and ridden on, ensuring they truly are Ready to Ride.
Wiggle was sold to the private equity investment company Bridgepoint in December 2011. Bridgepoint specialise in investing in middle market businesses and are driving Wiggle forward and ensuring that the company continues to raise the bar and provide a great service and stocking the very best products. In doing so Wiggle were able to launch 11 new websites for our overseas consumers in 2012.
Company HQ … Wiggle’s Harbourgate head office
From Wiggle’s beginning that started with a handful of staff, our current number is over 350 employees and growing. Wiggle employs sports enthusiasts who are passionate about their chosen discipline, a look at the desktop backgrounds and posters on the wall are testament to that! Regular staff rides, runs and swims occur. As well as taking parts in events, both competitive and social. This is a great way of sharing our knowledge and experience with one another. It allows us to test and trial new products and innovations to ensure we always deliver the best.
Go on Brad … Staff watching the Giro d’italia
Events and sponsorship
Wiggle has created and supported a network of worldwide events since 2005. In the first year Wiggle supported 3 events, this has progressed to a huge 96 events in 2013 – nearly two a week on average. Not forgetting the helicopter event marketing that had thousands talking about Wiggle in Sydney! For 2013, Wiggle became the title sponsor of UCI ladies professional cycling team, Wiggle Honda. This shows our value and commitment to sport, in particular ladies sport. It allows Wiggle to continue developing the successful private label of dhb with the feedback of the Worlds top female cyclists. Incidentally the brand dhb is named after the three creators; Mitch Dahl, Harvey Jones and Paul Bolwell (ex Wiggle merchandising director).
If you would like to take part in an event please view our Wiggle Events.
Ready to roll … Team Wiggle Honda launch
Wiggle's awards history
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BikeBiz online retailer of the year 2010, 2011, 2012
The News Business Excellence Awards, 2012
Golden Chariot Ecommerce Award 2012
Product Innovation title – Oracle Retail Awards 2011
220 Triathlon Awards 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Hitwise number 1 award for ‘Sports – Cycling’ January – June 2010
Hitwise Top 10 Award for ‘Sports and Fitness Industry’ January – June 2010
IMRG Hitwise Hot Shop List Winner Top 100 May 2009
Hitwise Top 10 Award – ‘Sports & Fitness’ 2009