Chrysalis tackles Rhino Rugby

Rhino Rugby, the sports equipment maker backed by England’s World Cup-winning rugby captain Martin Johnson, has sold a 6.25 percent stake to Chrysalis VCT.

Chrysalis, one of Europe’s best-performing venture capital trusts, has taken a 6.25 percent stake in UK-based sports equipment manufacturer Rhino Rugby.

Martin Johnson, executive director of Rhino Rugby

Rhino was the subject of a management buy-in last October by a consortium that included Martin Johnson, the former England and British Lions rugby captain.

As part of the buy-in, former head Derek de Glanville – father of former England rugby captain Phil de Glanville – retired from the business, with former shareholder Reg Clark taking over as chief executive. Johnson, who took a “significant stake”, became an executive director, while the company was relocated from Devon to West London.

The value of Rhino has risen by almost 40 percent since October, the firm said, based on the price Chrysalis paid for its minority stake. It is now thought to be worth about £16 million, according to a banker familiar with the firm.

The Chrysalis funding will be used to support the expansion of Rhino’s brand into leisurewear. The firm is currently best known for supplying training kit to the likes of the England and Wales national rugby teams.

It is not the first time that Chrysalis has backed a former rugby legend. The £30 million (€45 million; $59 million) VCT also provided funding to former England captains Fran Cotton and Steve Smith when they founded clothing retailer Cotton Traders in 1986.

Chrysalis VCT is currently trading up 6.57 percent since this time last year, at 73.00 pence.