Rapha founder Simon Mottram steps down as CEO

Simon Mottram – the founder and longtime figurehead of British cycling clothing brand Rapha – is stepping down as CEO at the end of this year. Mottram had held this role for 17 years, since he founded the company in London in 2004.

In an email to members of the industry, Mottram said it would be stepping down in late 2021, but “will stay very close to the brand. I will continue to serve on the Rapha board of directors and I will continue [to] play a founding role.

“I have no doubts that this is the right time for me to step down and for Rapha to have a new CEO with the skills and experience to take advantage of the huge opportunity that Rapha faces,” Mottram wrote.

William Kim, a Korean American with extensive experience at the intersection of technology and fashion, will replace Mottram from early 2022. Kim is a former CEO of British fashion brand AllSaints and has held positions at Gucci, Burberry and Abercrombie & Fitch. . Most recently, he was executive vice president of global retail and digital commerce at Samsung Mobile, leading the tech giant’s global direct-to-consumer arm.

Kim is, Mottram wrote, “just as passionate as I am about the Rapha brand and our opportunity to inspire the world to live life on the bike.

Under Mottram’s leadership, Rapha grew from a niche company to an icon in the cycling industry, setting a model for forward-thinking cycling clothing and paving the way for other brands. In the process, the brand’s technological prowess extended from retro-chic merino wool jerseys to cutting-edge kits.

Since arriving on board as a Team Sky apparel sponsor in 2013, Rapha has maintained a significant presence in the WorldTour. It is the current sponsor of EF Education-Nippo in the men’s category, while Canyon-SRAM has long hoisted the flag in the Women’s WorldTour (although that partnership ends this year).

A number of inflection points for the brand also took place during Mottram’s tenure. In 2017, Rapha was sold to RZC Investments – a company owned by Steuart and Tom Walton, heirs to the Walmart fortune – which preceded a lean period in the brand’s history. Since 2019, however, the brand’s financial stability has been strengthened, allowing expansion into new areas including a range of in-house footwear and, from 2021, mountain bike clothing. The brand has also published roadmaps to guide the industry and produced influential content through print publications, EF Gone Racing’s YouTube series and the team’s “alternate timeline”.

Despite being no longer CEO, Mottram – which was such an important creative and marketing beacon for Rapha – seems likely to retain some influence behind the scenes of the brand he built. “Equally important,” Mottram wrote, “I will continue to ride a bike with the same passion that led me to establish Rapha in the first place, as I worked to give cycling the inspiring and visionary strength it deserved. so much.”

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