ECI takes Evans for a spin

The firm has acquired a majority stake in the specialist cycling retailer alongside management

ECI Partners has agreed to acquire a “significant majority stake” in specialist cycling retailer Evans Cycles from current owner Active Private Equity, according to a joint statement from the parties involved.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, but market sources indicate that the deal values Evans at around £100 million (€135 million; $152 million).

ECI and Active declined to comment on financials beyond the statement.

Active, which focuses on brands in the consumer, leisure and retail space, acquired Evans in 2008 as a family-owned chain of bicycle shops based in the South East with annual revenues of around £44 million. Today Evans operates 56 shops and an e-commerce platform.

Under Active’s ownership sales have grown more than 300 percent, and Active will net an 8x return on the sale.

“We were more hands-on in the early years, working with the teams at Evans Cycles to develop a clear vision for the brand and business, and set it up for success,” Nick Evans, partner at Active, said in a statement, adding that the firm has worked to modernise the business and “equip the brand for the future”.

The remaining share of Evans will be held by the company’s management team, headed by Nick Wilkinson, which will continue to lead the business in partnership with ECI, according to the statement.

Evans will continue its strategy of focusing on customer service, investment in people and technology, and working in on-going partnership with top global cycling brands.

Wilkinson said partnering with ECI will “enable us to deliver our brand promise in new ways and to more people”.

ECI partner George Moss said Evans was “well placed for further growth” as “consumers look to lead increasingly healthy lifestyles and their shopping habits become ever more sophisticated”.

Evans is ECI’s second investment from its new fund, ECI 10, which closed on its £500 million (€626 million; $823 million) hard-cap in September last year after just five months in market. The firm officially launched the fundraising in April, targeting £400 million, and held a first close on the vehicle on £350 million in July.

In February ECI acquired a majority stake in salary sacrifice car scheme provider Tusker from late stage venture capital fund Smedvig Capital for an undisclosed amount.

Earlier this year the firm booked a 6.1x return for ECI 9, a 2008-vintage £437 million (€589 million; $665 million) vehicle, on the sale of machine-to-machine network Wireless Logic to CVC Capital Partners. Financial details of the transaction were undisclosed.