Giant’s King Liu and Tony Lo Retire by Year’s End
TAIPEI, Taiwan – King Liu, the 82-year-old founder and chairman of Giant Manufacturing, has announced his retirement at the end of this year together with that of the company’s long-time chief executive Tony Lo, aged 67. The successors of the two senior executive managers were announced last Friday at a press conference.
Bonnie Tu, King Liu’s niece and currently the company’s veteran chief financial officer and executive vice president will take over as Giant Manufacturing’s chairman. King Liu’s only son, Young Liu, currently chief operating officer, will be the new chief executive. Both appointments are effective as of next January 1 as was reported by the Nikkei Asian Review.
CFO and COO
The 67 year old Bonnie Tu has long served as the company’s CFO and successfully took the company public in 1994. In 2008, she launched Liv, a female bicycle brand with more colorful and designed models, and which has become one of Giant’s key growth drivers. Young Liu, 57, joined the company as a quality assurance specialist back in 1990. At the age of 34 it was Young Liu who helped to bring Giant to China, where the company has enjoyed explosive growth.
Creativity and entrepreneurship
“The time has come for me to truly step down and let the younger generation really make their own decisions and run the company. All the employees are still doing things according to my instructions and directions, but this could eventually hinder their creativity and kill their entrepreneurship to try new things,” said King Liu at the press conference.
Together with 67-year-old chief executive, Tony Lo, King Liu has been working over the last four decades to transform a tiny contract manufacturer into the world’s leading cycling brand that currently sells its products through more than 12,000 retailers across 80 countries.
In the past 40 years it was King Liu who initiated some mayor development in Taiwan’s bicycle industry. In the seventies he persuaded local component suppliers to stick to an internationally accepted quality standard. It marked his first move to overhaul Taiwan’s bike industry.
In 2002 he formed the A-Team, a business alliance that aimed to share marketing and manufacturing know-how and to unite Taiwanese suppliers to focus more on innovation rather than price-cutting. He even won the cooperation of Giant’s long-time competitor Merida Industry.
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, “King Liu’s and Tony Lo’s decision to hand over the reins comes at a pivotal moment for the company. After years of strong sales growth, the company this year could see its first slide in revenue since 2009 due to China’s slowing economy. For the first three quarters of 2016, the company’s net profit fell nearly 20% year-over-year to TWD 2.4 billion (€ 72m), while its revenue declined 6.5% to TWD 44.23 billion (€ 1.3bn). Revenue from bikes sales in China declined to 21% of the total turnover for the three months ending in September, down from 24% and 27% in 2015 and 2014.”
Change in strategy
As often new management means changes in strategy. Last Friday Bonnie Tu already announced that, “Our company’s new leadership will shift from the strong and centralized management over the past four decades to a more professional teamwork style.”
Young Liu added, “Bringing Giant to the next level, to be a service-oriented company that prospers with both brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce platforms. It definitely is not an easy task to take over the bike empire, especially when it is so successful and when the transition comes at a time when there are so many uncertainties. I certainly feel the encouragement as well as the pressure as the son of an iconic business.”