Cobb: Rapha HQ Makes Bentonville 'Nucleus' of Arkansas Cycling

Cobb: Rapha HQ Makes Bentonville 'Nucleus' of Arkansas Cycling

Cycling lifestyle brand Rapha will move its North American headquarters to Bentonville from Portland, Oregon, on March 1.

The move comes more than two years after Steuart and Tom Walton's RZC Investments became Rapha's majority shareholder

The new headquarters will employ about 10 people, “with plans to grow the team in future years,” according to Andrew Bernstein, a spokesman for Rapha. 

The company said benefits of moving to Bentonville include its proximity to the emerging Oz Trails mountain biking network, the fast-growing gravel landscape and the continuing emergence of northwest Arkansas as a "cradle for all kinds of cycling development."

"Portland was a natural home for Rapha as the brand started to expand across North America and the office and Portland-based staff have helped inform and define the brand over the last 10 years," the company said in a statement.

"Over the next few years the Rapha brand will evolve into new markets and we need to make sure that our office location supports our future strategic aims. After careful consideration, it's clear that basing the Rapha North American office in Bentonville will serve these aims effectively."

Graham Cobb, president and CEO of the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce, told Arkansas Business that “Rapha’s relocation further cements Bentonville as the nucleus for the cycling cell that Arkansas has become. With cycling meaning roughly $157 million dollars of economic impact to northwest Arkansas annually, we know that Bentonville is poised to be the epicenter of cycling sports for North America and the Heartland.”

Cobb said having “a mature and extraordinarily high-quality brand like Rapha embrace Bentonville” and the opportunity to serve more customers “fits perfectly in line” with the region’s cycling culture and the history of customer service “for the heart of retail in Bentonville.”

The Walton brothers are the sons of Jim Walton, chairman of Arvest Bank and the youngest son of late Walmart founder Sam Walton. When their RZC Investments took control of Rapha in 2017, the company said the move would allow Rapha to roll out its clubhouse network and membership club, add products and services, expand its reach globally, and "strengthen its leadership position in cycling."

Rapha's CEO, Simon Mottram, told Arkansas Business in 2017 that, should the company eventually expand into Arkansas, it would probably come to Little Rock or Bentonville. He also said that Rapha was moving its distribution center closer to the state, from Oregon to Kentucky.

Founded in 2004, Rapha is based in London, England.

The brand does not have a presence in Bentonville currently, but it operated a popup retail store there in April 2018.

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