<b>Czech Republic 2009: </b>Double Digit Decreases in Import & Export
PRAGUE, Czech Republic – The Czech bike sector saw double digit decreases in 2009. Exports of bicycles dropped by 23.5% last year while the import decreased by 21.5%. These figures had an impact both on the employment and the stock level. Regarding import and export of bicycles, the balance is positive every year in favour of export. In 2009 export predominated by 7.863 million which was a decrease by 33% compared to the most successful year (2008) when the balance was 11.783 million in favour of export.
PRAGUE, Czech Republic – The Czech bike sector saw double digit decreases in 2009. Exports of bicycles dropped by 23.5% last year while the import decreased by 21.5%. These figures had an impact both on the employment and the stock level. Regarding import and export of bicycles, the balance is positive every year in favour of export. In 2009 export predominated by € 7.863 million which was a decrease by 33% compared to the most successful year (2008) when the balance was € 11.783 million in favour of export.
The Czech Republic’s financial indicators were at their best in 2007, when the Prague region surprisingly reached the 5th place in the EU (with GDP per capita) preceded by London, Luxembourg, Brussels, and Hamburg (according to Eurostat as of 18 February 2010). At the end of 2009 the Czech Republic had 10,501,000 inhabitants, the average gross salary was € 890, the consumer price index 1%, the rate of unemployment 9.0% with the annual GDP -4.1%.
Looking at the current bike production in the country which is estimated to total about 400,000 units annually; there are well known companies like Author (Universe Agency), 4Ever, BikeFun (Superior) and Olpran. The latter is a specialized producer of kids’ bikes. Olpran opened in 2008 a new facility in Kralova where its production capacity stands now at about 1,000 bikes per day. Olpran offers them in all sizes and models.
Other Czech bike makers have significantly upgraded their offering in recent years. 4Ever (which is also producing Dahon folding bikes) as well as Superior (BikeFun Int’l) claim to make carbon frames entirely in house. However, the Czech market includes more names than just Author, Olpran, 4Ever or Superior. Coowa Bikes, Duratec, Apache, Ekolo for e-Bikes, Kenzel, Dema Bicycles, Sundance are just some other names of the about 50 bike brands that are currently operating in the Czech market, along with all the well known European and US players.
Import & export
Bike import into the Czech Republic stood in 2008 at about 360,000 units of which 200,000 came from outside the European Union. The 2009 number of imported bikes is not available. But according to the data from the Czech Customs Administration as well as the Czech Statistics Office, the value of all the imported bikes totalled € 44.467 million (down 21.5% or € 12.148 million on the 2008 figure). The bikes came from 23 countries while the imports from Taiwan traditionally predominate with € 34.537 million, which is 77.7% of the total import. Next were importers from Germany, China, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Austria, France, Italy, the USA and Poland.
Bike exports from the Czech Republic is estimated at about 400,000 units annually. For 2009 only the value of the export is provided by the Czech Statistics Office. It claims that the producers exported bicycles from the Czech Republic in the total volume of € 52.330 million to 31 countries. This figure is down 23.5% or € 16.074 million on the 2008 total.
The traditional important export countries for Czech bicycles according to the order of export volume were: Germany with 39% of the total export volume, followed by the Netherlands 23%, Austria 10%, Slovakia 8.8%, Poland 8.7%, Belgium 2.3% and Switzerland 1.8%.
Sales of new bicycles in the Czech Republic market stood in 2009 at about 360,000 units. At least, this is what the company Aspire Sports estimates. This is one of the leading Czech importers of bicycles under the brand names GT, Mongoose, Schwinn and Cannondale which all come from Cycling Sports Group (CSG), which belongs to Canadian Dorel Industries.
The first months of 2009 in retail shops did not show substantial signs of drops in sales, but the annual balance according to qualified estimates showed a decrease of up to 20%.
According to a Deloitte company study, sellers have a few options to resist the crisis successfully. One of them is orientation to the stable home clientèle and specific customers′ features. Last year this idea was put into practice by Czech company Bike Components eCenter (bcec) which runs a European trade and communication site (bcec.biz).
The newly created website BikePoint.biz (bpb) they focus on the creation of a retail network of the same name which issues promotional ‘discount’ cards BikePointCards, eligible for anyone who makes a purchase worth of € 200 in this network. Then they are granted points which are transformed into money according to the purchase. The site provides technical news, a cycling events calendar, a customer forum, etc. At present the retail-shops network has about 110 members. There is also a BikePoint Assistant available as a safety against theft of a bicycle purchased in this sales network. It is in form of a public promise of compensation for a new bike up to the value of aprox. € 2,000 for 1 year from the purchase.
Great market expectations are hoped for in the Czech Republic with the introduction of e-Bikes of various forms. There are firms specializing on imports of various (electric) drive units for front and rear wheels, control units and batteries (kits) for current bicycle frames. The biggest contemporary Czech distributor is a Prague firm ekolo.cz.
Bike Brno: West Meets East
The Czech Republic hosts every year the Bike Brno Show. This trade and public event is steadily gaining importance and in fact is turning into THE show for Eastern Europe. This year Bike Brno is taking place earlier compared to previous years; show dates for Bike Brno 2010 are 7 – 10 October.
With a growing interest from volume bike makers located in the Western part of Europe in production closer to market because of the US dollar hitting a two-year high against the euro and on top of that all the logistics problems and stretched lead times that come with sourcing in Asia; it offers a perfect breeding ground for a bike show.
However, to establish itself further as the meeting place between East and West, companies from others Eastern European countries like the Baltic States, the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia should take part in Bike Brno. In particular for (Western) European bike makers looking for alternative (alloy) frame suppliers. As lead times for aluminium frames produced in China are rising, there’s a growing interest in relocating (parts of) that production back to Europe and in particular to Eastern Europe (see also the report on the cover page of this issue).