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<b>Sweden 2006:</b> Market Turning to Commuter Models

Sales & Trends

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – In 2006, bike shop owners endured a cold spring and slow sales. This year the season jumpstarted with a warm pleasant spring and hopes were high for a record year. Unfortunately, one of the rainiest summers ever dampened those hopes, but figures show that Sweden had a good season overall. The trend […]

<b>Sweden 2006:</b> Market Turning to Commuter Models

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – In 2006, bike shop owners endured a cold spring and slow sales. This year the season jumpstarted with a warm pleasant spring and hopes were high for a record year. Unfortunately, one of the rainiest summers ever dampened those hopes, but figures show that Sweden had a good season overall.

The trend of the market splitting into low-end bikes versus high-end bikes is continuing. Direct mail campaigns by almost all the biggest electronic chains (SIBA, OnOff, Elgiganten), contain offers such as “Buy a refrigerator for SEK 4,000 (€ 432) and get a bike worth SEK 2,000 (€ 216) free”.

The Bike Market in Sweden (in units)

 
2003
2004
2005
2006
Production
70,000
125,000
125,000
125,000
Import
385,000
434,000
463,356
459,950
Export
35,000
65,000
99,374
90,767
Domestic
420,000
430,000
440,000
460,000

Source: Import/export: Eurostat

Sales Disputed

In this way, around 50,000 bikes are distributed around Sweden each spring (the number is strongly debated and estimates range between 30,000-90,000 units). Some bike shop owners see it as a fight they can’t win but others view it as a challenge and opportunity: "Yes, we charge SEK 500 (€ 54) just to help them to fit the bike and if they want to buy a new bike from us within six months we give them SEK 500 in discount," says Peter Karlsson, of Cykel & Sport, just outside of Gothenburg. "It has not been a success, but so far we have got around 25 new customers this way which is nice for the future," according to Karlsson.

Another tool for selling more bikes is that the local government in Stockholm has implemented a toll fee for entering the city by car. This has had a positive influence on bike commuting in Stockholm.

Rising Equipment Sales

According to Stefan Pedersen, owner of Cyklig, a small shop just outside the centre of Stockholm: "We used to be a hardcore racing shop but the during the last six months we have seen a nice trend towards customers who demand commuter bikes and they also want the extra equipment such as helmets, clothing, and locks."

Hakan Persson, owner of CykelCity, has the same opinion: "The timing for cycling is perfect, and I’m not talking about racing but training and commuting. I do hope that the market doesn’t miss out on this opportunity, and after I have been in the business since 25 years I can only say that this season has been one of the nicest, and that’s not only due to the cash flow but to all positive and nice customers." Håkan Persson has seen the biggest growth in road bikes with flat bars and says that he has sold more expensive accessories as well.

Position of Cycleurope

The biggest gun in the Swedish market, Cycleurope, also reports good sales, both complete bikes but perhaps more notably, accessories and components: "We see a clear trend towards higher priced bikes as well as city bikes and road bikes. Mountain bikes are decreasing in some regions but are locally strong at other places. Next year we will focus on trekking bikes," says Robert Sumberesi, CEO of Cycleurope, Sweden, who claims they have sold around 120,000 units during 2006, more or less the same figure as last year.

Last year Scott Svenska AB reported a good year pushing the average price up a little bit and this year has followed that trend: "We got a jump start with the warm spring weather," says Hakan Eriksson, CEO of Scott Svenska AB. He adds that "It used to be very dependent on the weather, but that seems not to be the case this year. Our biggest problem has been that Scott has done a great year in the rest of Europe leaving us with problems getting bikes delivered. We have sold out some models and I can sum up the season in one word: brilliant!"

Asked which models have seen the biggest upswing, Eriksson replied that "For us, being a “sporty” brand, we have been strong in all segments, from junior bikes to the most exclusive bikes, but of course, we are strongest in the big cities and that’s where all the trends start."

Trek Down

Trek, which is distributed by Duells, last year reported a figure of 10,500 bikes sold. This year they will sell around 9,000 bikes. Duells report “a small increase in delivered bikes” and the discrepancy in the numbers is because Gary Fisher brand bikes were taken into account in last years figures. Nevertheless, they are happy to have maintained their market share. "The season started extremely early but it calmed down when it started to rain during the summer. After sales following the vacation period have also been good," says Tommy Lager, Product Manager at Duells.

So what trends have emerged this year? "Hybrids with disc brakes – we could have sold twice as many. Our Mirraco BMX has also sold well," says Lager, who is very confident about the year to come. "Trek’s bike lines have more updates and new models than ever before," he adds: "The new Madone, a new platform for Fuel EX and the Soho-models looks better than ever, not to mention our special line for Swedish standard bikes; the Nordic Line."

Nishiki Claims Up

Nishiki, who last year managed to increase their sales by 15 %, had to overcome problems with shipments this year from their supplier in Taiwan, but has sold more high-price bikes than last year and claims they have increased their market share and now selling around 10,000 bikes annually.

"Our biggest sellers are hybrids, but we have seen a trend towards racing bikes and the average price per bike is still increasing. I see some signs that the market could be overheating," says Linus Lindgren, product manager at Unicykel, which imports Nishiki to Sweden. He says the company is focusing on bikes assembled in Sweden for the coming year.

With the market becoming so polarized, some experts predict that a large number of bike shops will have to close over the next few years. The market is splitting into cheap bikes sold out of a box versus bike shops that attract people that are willing to pay extra money to get the best.

 

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