Rapha racing

Pedal power


Stores offer shoppers the chance to try before they buy but for premium road cycling retailer Rapha, they also facilitate new social connections.

“We’re selling experiences. Sometimes that is symbolised by a product, but it can also be hanging out in a Cycle Club or taking a Rapha Travel trip to an amazing mountain somewhere,” says Rapha’s Founder and CEO Simon Mottram. “We’re selling cycling itself, not the stuff that goes with it.”

“Making 300 different products that justify a premium price and do exactly what the customer wants is really hard”

Simon Mottram, Founder and CEO, Rapha

This ethos has served the London-based company well and Rapha’s passion for the sport has helped it grow sales by more than 30% each year since Simon founded the business in 2004. “We go the extra mile,” he says. “Whether it’s making new products, making products better, putting on events or working with the world’s top racing team [Team Sky] – it all comes from the fact that we’re completely obsessed by cycling.”

A clear focus on the customer and a wider cycling boom has helped Rapha build a cult following across the globe. The business already has Cycle Clubs in seven countries, including the US, Australia and Japan, and in 2015 it will add three more in Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

The key challenge will be keeping up with the rapid pace of growth, says Simon. “Making 300 different products that justify a premium price and do exactly what the customer wants is really hard,” he adds.

  • 30% – The growth in sales that Rapha has enjoyed each year since the business was founded in 2004

The UK accounts for just under 30% of the company’s annual sales but the nation’s cycling enthusiasts can look forward to more innovation in 2015, including extra lines for the fashion-focused City range, eyewear and a new women’s collection in collaboration with Liberty of London from the autumn. 

An ongoing focus for the company will be its global Rapha Cycling Club (RCC), which launched in December 2014. Benefits of the invitation-only club include priority access to Rapha events and an international cycling concierge service.