The owners of Vittoria Group, including founder and president Rudie Campagne, have sold their global bicycle tyre business to Wise Equity, an Italian group.
Campagne, who is 76, will retire this month. Wise Equity partner Stijn Vriends is being named president and CEO.
Campagne bought the Italian company Vittoria Spa in 1990, when it was a small operation with fewer than 180 employees. Since then, the company has expanded to become one of the largest high-end tyre makers in the world, with more than 1,300 employees producing more than 7 million tyres a year. Annual sales are about 60 million euros (A$97 million).
Besides its own brand of tyres, wheels and other products, Vittoria produces tyres for several other brands, most at its Lion Tyres factory in Bangkok, Thailand.
The company said it needed capital and new leadership to “to become the undisputed number one in developing products and materials with disruptive technologies, so it can keep on providing the best bicycle tyres and wheels out there.”
Campagne will remain as non-executive in the Vittoria board and honorary chairman for life. Wise Equity is a private equity fund based in Milan.
In announcing the acquisition, new CEO Vriends said he sees opportunity in urban mobility and e-bikes.
“It’s more exciting than ever to be part of the ever-changing Urban Mobility landscape and our graphene tyre technology, developed for sport bicycles, can now become our dominant competitive edge in the Urban bike category, as graphene tyres are ideal for city and E-bikes which need long-endurance tyres that don’t run flat,” he said.
“Me and my partners eventually always wanted to bring the brand home to Italy, the cradle of the cycling world. Turning over the reins to Wise Equity therefore feels like the completion of a cycle,” Campagne said. Vittoria recently built a 7 million euro (A$11.3 million) headquarters, test center and warehouse in Bergamo, Italy.
Vittoria Tyres have been distributed in Australia for many years by GKA Sports Distribution.
Most of this article was previously published in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (USA)