By Nick Carey and Toby Sterling
LONDON/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -Lavoie, the electric scooter unit of Formula One engineering and technology firm McLaren Applied, said on Thursday it has agreed to buy bankrupt premium Dutch e-bike maker VanMoof and will invest to stabilize and expand its business.
Lavoie and McLaren Applied did not disclose terms for the purchase, but McLaren Applied Chairman Nick Fry told Reuters that including the capital needed to stabilize VanMoof there would be an investment of “tens of millions” of pounds “in the short term.”
“This is a huge opportunity for us as this (VanMoof) is a company with a brilliant product,” Fry said. “But this is not going to be a walk in the park, this also is a company that got itself into a difficult financial situation.”
The court-appointed trustees for VanMoof overseeing the bankruptcy process confirmed the sale and said they were pleased with the outcome.
“Shortly after Sept. 4, more will be announced regarding the continuation of services provided to VanMoof riders”, trustees Jan Padberg & Robin de Wit said in a statement.
Fry said McLaren Applied – bought from McLaren Group by private equity firm Greybull Capital in 2021 – would retain VanMoof’s departmental managers and would “engage and retain or rehire some of the great people” the Dutch e-bike maker employed.
But he said there will be some redundancies and under new management VanMoof will abandon its in-house retail store model, instead using third-party retailers to sell and service bikes, opening up new markets around the world for potential buyers.
VanMoof, known for its sleek, minimalist designs, was declared bankrupt on July 18. It sold around 200,000 electric bikes for more than 2,000 euros ($2,176) each before going bankrupt, partly due to high maintenance costs.
As sales boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic, VanMoof raised more than $180 million from investors including private equity firm Hillhouse and Silicon Valley venture capital fund Norwest Venture Partners.
Other suitors for VanMoof had included Nasdaq-listed Micromobility.com.
VanMoof had also struggled with quality problems, which McLaren Applied’s Fry said had hurt sales. But the bike maker had rectified those issues with new models it was unable to bring to market before declaring bankruptcy.
McLaren Applied will now sell those models, Fry said.
McLaren Applied recently launched the premium Lavoie e-scooter brand. The scooters fold and unfold at the touch of a button and start at 1,890 pounds ($2,409). Deliveries will start in earnest in the fourth quarter.
Fry said Lavoie will sell e-bikes under the VanMoof brand and will consider whether to rebrand its own scooters under the same name.
“VanMoof has an incredibly loyal following,” he said. “So it’s 100% sure we’ll keep the VanMoof brand and how we combine it with Lavoie has yet to be established.”
(Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by David Holmes)