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Rapha ends sales to online retailers

Published September 25, 2012
The Rapha section at Mellow Johnny's.

LAS VEGAS, NV (BRAIN) — Rapha clothing is carefully expanding its brick-and-mortar retail network in the U.S., even as it ends sales to online retailers.

The company recently ended sales to its one U.S. online retailer, Competitive Cyclist, said Derrick Lewis, Rapha's New York-based strategic accounts manager.

Lewis said Rapha was conceived as a consumer-direct online brand and that competing against its own customers online didn't make sense.

"Rapha.cc will be our only online retailer," Lewis said at Interbike last week. "As for retail locations, we will expand where it makes sense."

Rapha has three retailers in Canada and 11 in the U.S. The company also operates its own store/cycling club location in San Francisco, California.

"Our relationships with retailers is very unique," Lewis said. "It's something of a symbiotic relationship where we look for shops that really command the road scene in their market, and have a reputation and a history. It gives Rapha fans a place to see the clothing in person that they've maybe only seen online before. And in exchange it can be a huge draw for the store."

Rapha's retailers include River City Bicycles in Portland, Oregon; Mellow Johnny's in Austin, Texas; and University Bicycles in Boulder, Colorado.

Lewis recently spent most of a week at Mellow Johnny's helping set up the store's Rapha department, seen in the photo above.

Rapha is on the verge of getting a lot more attention worldwide next season with its sponsorship of the Sky pro team, including Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins. Rapha is sponsoring the team for racing and casual clothing.

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